Telephone Reassurance
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CARE® Feature Comparison with RUOK®

Database Systems Corp. (DSC) is a leading provider of services and products related to the telecommunications industry.

DSC provides an automated dialing program and phone system for contacting the elderly at their residents ensuring their well-being. This program is called CARE - Call Reassurance.

One of the original phone reassurance programs was developed in the late 1980's and is currently marketed by a company called Northland Innovation (*). Their program is called "Are You OK?"®.

Because many groups are looking to upgrade or replace this older and less reliable technology, DSC has prepared a comparitive chart that demonstrates the difference between these systems.

Customer's Own Words

The following published statements came from one of our customers, the City of Auburn, Massachusetts Police Department.
    "Auburn Police Chief Andrew Sluckis said his town has had a call service for more than a decade. It had been using Are You OK (RUOK)®, which was developed by Northland Innovation Corp., but switched to Database Systems' product.

    'We really didn't have a choice,' explained Christina Silpe, director of elderly affairs for Auburn.

    'When the RUOK® system that had been in place for some time crashed and burned, we had a choice of replacing it with the newer RUOK® software, or going with something new and we decided to go with Database System's Call Reasurrance (CARE) program,' Ms. Silpe said."

    - Worcester Telegram & Gazette




CARE® vs RUOK®

The following chart lists the different features and capabilities of the CARE program from Database Systems Corp. and Northland Innovation's "Are You OK?"® product. Last updated on 1 Feb, 2013.


Features


Database Systems Corp.
CARE®


Northland Innovation's
Are You OK?®



Business Location


Database Systems Corp. is an Established Business since 1978. It maintains an office with full time employees and customer service staff.


Northland Innovation operates out of a home. (1)


Better Business Rating


A+


Unrated (1)


Call Center


DSC maintains a secure offsite call center with hundreds of digital phone lines making CARE calls


None


Call Center Capacity


500,000 calls / day
(Currently making 16,000 calls daily)


None


Types of Products


CARE service at DSC's own call center or COMPLETE phone systems and software


Listed product is Software Only, plus a voice modem. Computer and peripherals are responsibility of client


Types Of Services


Individual Service as well as Third Party Partnerships


Does Not Offer A Service


Number of Installations


DSC started marketing CARE in 2005 and has approximately 80 systems clients, many of which are RUOK® replacements. DSC also has hundreds of CARE service clients.


Northland started its RUOK® business in 1989 and claims approximately 1700 installations. However, the vast majority are the old DOS version and a large number of which are no longer active. (2)


Installation Process


Fully Tested and Integrated Before Shipment


Requires Customer Installation and Integration of Multiple Vendor Products


Cost


Service as low as $14.95 / client / month (no hardware or additional phone service required). Community organizations (i.e. police) start at $9.95 / client / month.
Systems start at $7500 including all required equipment.


$999.00 minimum (computer and peripherals EXTRA)


Number of Analog Lines


1-48


1


Number of Digital Lines


24 - 480
(unlimited with networked systems)


None


Operating Systems


All Enterprise Versions of Windows (Systems).
All PCs (Windows and Apple) / iPads / Tablets / Smartphones (Service).


DOS (older versions)
Windows (newer versions)


PC Quality


Industrial PC with RAID 1 Hard Drive Protection


This is the responsibility of the customer


Telecommunications


Dialogic telephony boards from Intel


Voice modem (3)
(Not recommended by industry professionals) IMPORTANT - See Below


Web-based Management


Both Individuals and Groups Can Use DSC's Website Signup and Management


Does Not Offer Web Management


Phone-based Management


Clients Can Manage Their Individual Call Schedules Automatically By Phone


Cannot Process Inbound Calls


Answer Machine Detection


Multiple level detection on telephony board


NO
Voice modem cannot differentiate between an anwering machine and a live answer. Each senior must be individually configured with or without an ans. machine or voice mail (4)


Text To Speech Messages


Yes with multiple TTS engine support


No


Restart On Power Off


Fully automatic with date and time restoration


Only Windows Version (5)


System Administration


Systems Run Continuously


Must Reboot System At Least Once A Week (6)


Database Integrity During Maintenance


Database remains intact on power off or system halt


Database may be corrupted if computer turned off or power failure occurs (7)


Call Retries


Configurable and Customizable Per Individual


DOS fixed, Windows version configurable


Custom Greetings


Standard greeting, custom greeting (including medication reminders), or random messages, all configurable per individual.


DOS fixed, Windows version limited


Maintaining Custom Greetings


Custom greeting can be recorded on the system, downloaded from an external file for personalized family member greetings, or recorded over an 800 phone call.


Only created by recording using microphone on the system


Problem Notification


Automatically contacts family and friends, with fallback call to emergency center. Automatic alert is sent and displayed on CARE monitor. Alerts are continuously sent until acknowledged.


Report is sent to printer - must be monitored by center. No alert is sent.


Problem Contact Media


Phone calls or emails to list of responders plus center alert.


Center alert only


Friendly Conversation


Phone system can connect the CARE recipient with a "live" contact for a friendly chat.


None


Call Reminders Only


CARE can send simple call reminders to individuals or answering machines without loss of the first part of the message.


Windows version only. Cannot detect answer machines - first part of reminder message is missing.


Call Reporting System


CARE includes 11 comprehensive and unique reports that can have custom data filters with option to download data for customized reporting


Limited to 5 standard reports (3 of which are the same, simply sorted by different fields) (8)


I'm OK Today


CARE allows seniors to call and automatically check in before their scheduled call (very popular with service clients)


None (Cannot take inbound calls)


Volunteers


CARE system automatically calls volunteers for emergency followup or friendly chat.


None (Cannot call responders)


Call Latchkey Kids


Calls children at home (random times) and notifies PARENTS or GUARDIANS if there is a problem


No different than a senior call and all alerts must be handled by a dispatcher who must then call the individual parents


Emergency Notification


Simultaneously broadcast emergency messages using any number of lists and recorded messages over multiple lines - important for emergency dispatch, community warnings, and emergency response center actions. Answer machines are detected and messages played after recorded greeting. Calls can be acknowledged and/or transferred.


One message sent at a time. No answering machine detection - only end of message recorded. No acknowledgement.


Emergency Calls Launched by phone


Emergency calls can be launched remotely by cell phone or other mobile devices.


No


Call Answering


CARE PRO has automatic call answering with a full IVR script including touchphone key control.


None


Customization


CARE systems can be fully customized using extensive call library


None


Development


CARE systems are developed entirely inhouse by Database engineers


Development outsourced


Updates


Software updates automatically included with Maintenance Agreement


New Versions Must be Purchased

Voice Modem vs Dialogic Professional Telephony Cards

Northland Innovations provides a cheaper solution by requiring customers to provide their own personal computers and by using voice modems (generally costing a few hundred dollars). But industry professionals have warned against this.

For example, NCH software states:

    "For professional installations we always recommend professional voice boards eg. the CURL board since voice modems are not always predictably reliable."
    - http://www.nch.com
Voiceguide states:
    "Many voice modems have one or more of the following problems:

    • Poor sound quality/volume.
    • Unreliable DTMF tone detection.
    • Cannot do call transfers as hookflash length is too long or too short.
    • Mistakenly detect a disconnect tone while playing or recording messages and hangup a call halfway through playing/recording of sound file.
    • Unable to interrupt the playing of a sound file halfway through.

    For reasons above most people find voice modems unsuitable and choose to use a telephony card instead (Dialogic)." - www.voiceguide.com

This message is repeated often by other professional developers. DSC has chosen a more expensive but reliable Dialogic telephony board to ensure its CARE clients and their loved ones a reliable calling experience.

Industrial / Office Computer versus Personal Computer

DSC provides an industrial computer with backup components as its STANDARD system. These are the same systems that DSC utilizes in its own call center. These systems have been running continuously for years except for periodic, scheduled maintenance.

Northland claims it runs on any standard PC with its software (and thus claims to be much cheaper than CARE). But Northland also states that their users MUST REBOOT their personal computers EVERY WEEK. This is repeated multiple times in RUOK® documentation (7). This requirement is due to software errors that Northland is unable to identify and correct. This is not a computer hardware problem.

Northland chose to provide a cheap and less reliable solution and in doing so, jeopardizes the operation and safety of its clients to save a few dollars. (See Estes Park, Colorado testimonial).

References

(1) Better Business Bureau records, 411phonebook.com
(2) In 2007, DSC performed a calling campaign and contacted hundreds of RUOK® clients. A large percentage of those who were contacted stated that they had discontinued their program.
(3) "Way2call Desktop Lite - Basic single line telephony voice modem." - way2call.com. "Way2Call TAPI Serial RS-232 Hi-Phone Desktop Telephony Voice Modem" - ebay.com. "Way2Call TAPI USB Hi-Phone Desktop Lite Single Line Voice Modem" - AltoEdge.com. "Hi-Phone Desktop Lite - Basic single line telephony voice modem" - Facebook (Way2call.com).
(4) "The Hi-Phone Desktop device detects voice, and DOESN'T detect mail box or voice mail." - Technical Engineer Way2Call. RUOK® User Manual, page 24 - software requires that system be notified if answering machine is present for each configured subscriber.

    If senior forgets to turn OFF ans. machine and is configured without one, calls can be falsely reported as answered. This is a potential DEADLY flaw in RUOK® operation.
(5) This is one of the most repeated complaints from DOS RUOK® clients - 2007 calling campaign referenced above.
(6) RUOK® Website (Getting Started, User's Manual, etc.) "To avoid memory leak problems, your computer should be shut down and restarted at least once a week."
(7) RUOK® User Manual, page 22
(8) RUOK® User Manual, page 37



CARE Demonstration

Our CARE telephone reassurance program can be managed online.


This demo shows how residents are entered into our system for calling and how a systems admin person can monitor the ongoing operation of our CARE telephone reassurance phone system.

To view the demo, simply click the graphic above.


CARE Program Information

Contact DSC to learn more about our CARE telephone reassurance program.

"Are You OK?"® and RUOK® are registered names of Bruce L Johnson (Individual). For a comparison with our CARE system, please visit our RUOK® vs CARE web page.