Why agility is the key for NDIS’ shifting goal posts
17 September 2019 at 7:15 am
The changes to the way service providers are funded under the National Disability Insurance Scheme is not only forcing change on how NFPs deliver their service but is also creating a significant change in the administration and record keeping requirements of these organisations, writes Ben Fock from HLB Mann Judd Wollongong.
With over 298,000 people already signed up (figures taken from June 2019, COAG Disability Reform Council Quarterly Report), there is much the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has done right. However, being one of the biggest changes to the disability sector in recent years, the NDIS has presented its share of challenges.
For our not-for-profit (NFP) clients that have chosen to become registered providers and receive funding under these new arrangements they can attest first hand to some of these challenges.
As Lucio Di Giallonardo (HLB Mann Judd Perth) wrote in a previous article, the NDIS is forcing not-for-profit sector reform with a focus now on meeting the needs of individuals under their specific funding arrangements as opposed to the previous up-front block funding model.
It is this process of now receiving funding for individuals under their specific plans that is not only forcing change on how NFPs deliver their service but is also creating a significant change in the administration and record keeping requirements of these organisations.
Most providers identified early on in the process that a compliant and capable IT software system would be essential to operate under the new funding arrangements. Whilst there are a lot of NDIS specific software packages that have become available over the last few years, we have seen most organisations either attempt to integrate one of these with their existing software or have their own IT specialists and programmers attempt to adapt their existing software to meet the new requirements.
The challenge we are now seeing is that even with capable software, the significant increase in volume of transactions has strained most NFPs’ existing administration functions and created the need for these organisations to commit more resources to this area and develop new internal control and review processes. With very specific requirements to be met for funding claims most organisations face regular claim rejections as a result of incorrect submissions, inadequate or insufficient documentation. Timely follow-up and review processes need to be in place to ensure funding is actually received.
My advice here is to ensure that organisations stay on top of their submissions and do as best as they can to get all the information to ensure they are lodged correctly upfront avoiding the need for follow-up. Whilst as obvious and simple as this may seem, it can actually be very difficult to achieve when organisations are “drowning” in paperwork.
In my experience, the businesses that do this well will firstly have a system that is automated and agile and can adapt when the goal posts move such as with pricing adjustments. This may be as simple as a reconciliation using excel or in some cases may require a purpose written software program. The second element is having suitably qualified and capable staff to manage these systems. Most NFPs entering the NDIS market have had to make an investment here. With staff costs generally forming a big part of any NFP budget, having the right mix of staff can’t be understated. Capable staff, robust internal systems and procedures combined with suitable software creating an automated process are the key to reducing the administration burden and assisting you in achieving your goal of collecting all you are owed.
This article was authored by Ben Fock, partner at HLB Mann Judd Wollongong. For more information, contact Ben on (02) 4254 6500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.