The implantation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is set to fundamentally change how services are provided for people with disabilities in Australia. 

The provision of those services and the survival of the organisations providing them may hinge on how well they can leverage data, according to Luke Benson, a Domo practice lead at Blue Bike Solutions.

It’s difficultly to overstate the impact of the NDIS, Benson argued while speaking at a Domo City tour in Sydney. He said the NDIS will empower the 475,000 Australians eligible for support but will also disrupt existing service providers.

Benson and his consulting firm work with not for profit service providers, helping them to transition to the new NDIS scheme. So far they have found many service providers underprepared for the changes, which began taking effect in 2016, and ultimately unlikely to survive the new funding model.

“To be honest most of them weren’t prepared for it and so we’re seeing a real need, and an urgent need in many cases, for companies [to change].”

Luke Benson, Domo practice lead at Blue Bike Solutions.

Benson argues that data platforms, like Domo, can help by aggregating service providers’ information from human resources, CRMs and financial systems, as well as external data like information from the ABS. With that oversight, providers can identify exactly where services can be improved and where the not for profits may be losing vital income.

Benson used the example of one provider which was losing revenue under the NDIS despite providing more services than before the scheme. An analysis of the providers data revealed location and then the individual employee outsourcing too many services and operating at a significant loss.

A relatively simple problem, but one Benson says would go unnoticed without the data insights.

However, currently many service providers have little experience with data and analytics beyond basic spreadsheets and miss out on the actionable insights. The lack of oversight could prove fatal to the service providers, Benson says, when the NDIS is fully implemented in 2019 – a “huge, transformative upheaval” for the organisations delivering services.

Luke Benson, Domo practice lead at Blue Bike Solutions, says changes to the NDIS will empower the systems users, including his sister, Melissa Benson.

Funding changes

The fundamental changes of the NDIS is to direct funding to people with disabilities directly, who then select their own providers. It replaces the previous system where federal and state governments provided funding to service providers which then offered subsidised services to people with disabilities – a system that offered users “little choice and no certainty of access to appropriate supports”, according to the productivity commission.

According to Benson many of the service providers have grown accustomed to relatively steady government funding of the previous system, but newly empowered NDIS users will ultimately disperse the billions of dollars in funds to those providing the best outcomes.

At $252 billion over the first 10 years, the government investment eclipses almost all other major policies in terms of spending and, hopefully, outcomes, Benson said.

In June, Dan Tehan, the Minister for Social Services added some equally impressive rhetoric, describing the NDIS as “the greatest nation building project on earth”, one that will “change the face of Australian society”. 

It’s a big claim but one that is ultimately right, Benson said. 

“[The NDIS] is transforming Australia. It’s changing the way we give people with disabilities an opportunity to join society, take part and thrive, in our environment that we take for granted.”

Ensuring the rhetoric converts to user outcomes will require advanced data and analytics in many cases, according to Benson.

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