NDIS providers embrace technology

09/10/2019 - 14:15

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With the rollout of the NDIS due to be completed by mid-2020, disability service providers are turning to IT solutions to improve efficiency and make the system more accessible to users.

NDIS providers embrace technology
Nilesh Makwana says AvantCare was developed to be an accessible, low-cost solution. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Technology is assisting disability service providers overcome challenges of the national insurance scheme.

With the rollout of the NDIS due to be completed by mid-2020, disability service providers are turning to IT solutions to improve efficiency and make the system more accessible to users.

The NDIS offers a market-based system for disability services, meaning clients receive the funding and choose how they spend it, instead of service providers having control of the money.

Consultancy Illuminance Solutions chief executive Nilesh Makwana and his team developed AvantCare, a solution to integrate all the business areas needed by a service provider.

AvantCare uses Microsoft products to build processes concerning chief executives, operations managers, support workers, finance, payroll, IT, clients and their families.

The solution, Mr Makwana said, was developed alongside service providers to be accessible and low-cost.

“The system has been evolving and growing and the client is liking it because they don’t have to buy multiple different systems and they don’t have to maintain the system silos and they don’t have five different manuals to manage,” Mr Makwana told Business News.

Illuminance was named a Microsoft 2019 Partner of the Year for Social Impact for the AvantCare service, in addition to winning a Business News Rising Stars award.

Mr Makwana said the implementation of the NDIS was not just a challenge for one organisation, but a sector-wide problem facing lots of disability service providers.

“For them to sustain in this new environment, they need process efficiency, they need productivity, they need compliance management, they need regulatory management, they need reporting management, they need intelligence,” he said.

“So how can we do more with less and how we can automate everything?”

A National Disability Services survey in 2018 found disability service providers considered technology, communications and tech strategy the most common business capability they needed to improve over the following year.

Service provider People Who Care chief executive Penny Webb, who is currently implementing an AvantCare solution, said most organisations that had transitioned to the NDIS had to review their current processes and ICT infrastructure. 

“It is certainly a critical piece of an organisation’s infrastructure and investment we need to get right,” Ms Webb told Business News.

“I am aware of some organisations that have been able to modify their existing, reasonably current, ICT systems to support the requirements of NDIS, and others, like ours, who have undertaken a significant review and scoping process to determine what is needed to not only support NDIS but other programs that have different compliance and reporting requirements.” 

People Who Care is in the early stages of implementing a new cloud-based client relationship management system, which will interact with its internal financial and human resource requirements and systems, as well as interface with government reporting requirements.

Rise Network, a disability and aged care service provider with 634 staff, has been working on its IT strategy for the past five years, spending $7 million implementing new solutions, according to chief executive Justine Colyer.

“Support workers, rather than running around the country with a piece of paper, they now have a mobile device,” Ms Colyer said.

“It means is it is much more responsive.

“If a client calls in and wants to change something, wants to do something new, we can instantly see who is available to come in provide their service, see how much money they have left in their account.”

Rise hired an external consultant from Deloitte to develop an overall IT strategy, and then used an implementation officer with a tech background to help in-house staff execute it.

The organisation settled on Procura for scheduling, D365 for finance, ActionHRM for staff management and leave and BioTime to interpret the award under which they pay staff.

Ms Colyer said the most important part of implementing the strategy was the process used to decide what the business needed, not the programs themselves.

“I really would say that this is about understanding what you need to be able to do, documenting it clearly and then getting a solution rather than the other way round,” she said.

To ensure the NDIS is more readily accessible to users, Brightwater Care Group received $300,000 funding from the Department of Communities to develop an online NDIS toolkit.

The toolkit provides easy to read booklets and activities including planning checklists for NDIS meetings, helping people understand how they can use the NDIS and checking people’s eligibility to apply.

Brightwater project coordinator Rachel King said the toolkit provided resources to help people with complex support needs to navigate the system.

“The NDIS toolkit fills this gap and helps guide individuals with disability and their families, friends, carers and guardians on how to effectively access the NDIS and pre-plan for the supports they need,” Ms King said.

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