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


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.


Database Systems Corp.

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


Unrated (1)

Call Center

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


Call Center Capacity

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


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


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



Number of Digital Lines

24 - 480
(unlimited with networked systems)


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


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

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


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.


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)


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.


Call Answering

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



CARE systems can be fully customized using extensive call library



CARE systems are developed entirely inhouse by Database engineers

Development outsourced


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."
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)." -

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).


(1) Better Business Bureau records,
(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 TAPI Serial RS-232 Hi-Phone Desktop Telephony Voice Modem" - "Way2Call TAPI USB Hi-Phone Desktop Lite Single Line Voice Modem" - "Hi-Phone Desktop Lite - Basic single line telephony voice modem" - Facebook (
(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.