Budget re-enforces NDIS, but challenges remain

By Martin Barlow - May 31, 2017

The healthcare industry is one of the major beneficiaries of the 2017-18 Budget with a key focus on NDIS. This is good news for many especially in relation to bridging the funding gap, however, the challenges for health care providers extend beyond the financial, covering workforce and HR matters particularly as they pertain to quality patient outcomes and ongoing viability of their organisations.

The budget has foreshadowed an increase in the Medicare Levy from 2% to 2.5% by raising an additional $8.2bn over the next four years to fund the gap in NDIS, making it the largest beneficiary.

The Federal Government has recognised the shortfall in NDIS funding and is committing extra funds, for when the full NDIS scheme is implemented in 2019-20. To protect the quality and safety of services provided under NDIS, an independent NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission will also be set up next year to oversee service providers and manage complaints.

The government is guaranteeing the future of the NDIS in light of challenges experienced during the pilot. Currently, more than 60,000 Australians have care plans funded under the NDIS but the scheme is experiencing growing pains such as significantly higher than estimated costs, supply of care workers and slow rollout. The Budget has been positively received by the National Disability Services and Pitcher Partners anticipates that this news will relieve the sector on this issue and encourage providers to journey forward.

Service providers must maximise their access to funding to deliver quality client outcomes and ensure they stay commercially viable. It is essential that providers are constantly seeking ways to minimise cost and create on-going efficiencies within their business, through people, processes and technology.

As resourcing is a major component of cost and also essential to ensure quality outcomes, NDIS providers must closely examine their workforce and skill sets. Working to ensure labour capability by better understanding the workforce strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for improvement are key desired outcomes. Looking at the main pillars of Capability, Culture, Engagement and Talent is pivotal to ensuring the most effective workforce.

A key aspect of NDIS success is developing efficient organisation design, managing talent pools, managing performance of existing staff, creating the right culture to engage with clients as well as developing teams is critical to ensuring high quality outcomes for clients. High quality outcomes deliver repeat business and new clients creating economies of scale. Pitcher Partners’ view is that service providers must take the time to better manage their largest cost, their internal and external workforce, to ensure ongoing financial viability within the current NDIS framework.

The 2017-18 Budget has included funding for a range of initiatives to improve access to high quality health and community services for Australians.

Martin Barlow is a Client Director and Simone Ozbek is a Senior Consultant at Pitcher Partners Consulting (PPC) Melbourne, both part of the PPC Health & Care Industry Group.

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