Disability Providers Held Back by Lack of Data
24 January 2019 at 8:24 am
A lack of data is hampering growth in the disability sector, according to the peak body for service providers.
National Disability Services CEO Chris Tanti told Pro Bono News providers were experiencing a lack of data – especially by location – and that this was seriously hampering evidence-based planning and the ability of both existing and new organisations to meet market needs.
He said the lack of localised supply and demand data for National Disability Insurance Scheme services made it difficult for providers to make investment and expansion decisions.
“We believe market stewardship is critical to reducing the risk of market failure, and the success of the NDIS depends heavily on existing not-for-profit providers, but they are facing barriers to growth due to uncertainty and insufficient information about demand,” Tanti said.
“This information dearth even extends to specialist disability accommodation. Developers, including NFP disability service providers, are expected to make large investment decisions in the absence of information about demand and with only incomplete information about supply.”
Tanti said the National Disability Insurance Agency was the best source of this data and encouraged the agency to release more data to the market in the future.
He added the principal risk facing the NDIS was the supply of services not keeping up with the rapid growth in demand.
“In these times where data capturing [and] data driven decision making is the norm for all businesses, many of our providers are really flying blind into the future,” he said.
Tanti’s comments follow a recent report from the Centre for Social Impact which urged the NDIA to release more market data so providers could offer services where help was needed most.
Pro Bono News reached out to the NDIA for a response, but they were unable to provide comment before deadline.
The use of data by disability providers has been encouraged by Aviva Beecher Kelk, the co-founder and co-director of Clickability – an Australian disability service directory that allows people to rate and review the disability services they use.
Beecher Kelk is speaking in March at the Data4Good conference in Sydney, which aims to showcase innovative ways Australian organisations are using data to create a better society.
She told Pro Bono News social organisations collected so much data all the time, and that this data could be a force for good.
“If you think about a hospital, when you go in there you have a file and that’s such a rich source of information about what people need and how change happens over time. It’s the same in the disability sector,” Beecher Kelk said.
“There is some fear about collecting data and about using data but there’s such a huge potential there to actually create brand new knowledge about what helps people live their best lives… and so much scope to improve services and outcomes.”
She said the danger with under utilising the resource was that providers could miss out on meeting the needs of people with disability.
“We co-design a lot of what we do at Clickability by actually speaking to the people who use our services, and this allows them to get better outcomes… this also applies over the whole disability industry,” she said.
“If providers don’t look at the data they have, then they’re not listening to the people who should be benefiting from their services and they’re not actually going to achieve the outcomes that the NDIS has set out to achieve.”
Beecher Kelk said by collecting more data, providers would have a more realistic and sensitive real-time picture of not only where consumer need was, but also of the market opportunities for providers to step in and meet those needs.
“This is how the NDIS can become really powerful – by leveraging a marketplace that is meeting need in real time,” she said.