If you’re an allied health professional working for a disability service provider, running an allied health business, or operating as a sole trader, it’s likely you’re familiar with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists, speech pathologists, prosthetists and other allied health professionals all play an incredibly important role. They’re instrumental in providing people with a disability with assessments and supports that enable them to access the scheme, develop effective plans and achieve their goals.
Whether you have already registered or are still considering involvement in the scheme, you are likely familiar with the recent negative press that the NDIS has received. This includes:
- A warning from allied health professional bodies that plans to introduce tiered price caps for therapy would see many providers de-register. (Read The Australian article - paywall may apply)
- Reports of practices closing, not being able to pay staff and being owed tens of thousands due to delays with participants plans and reviews.
Is the NDIS a viable option for allied health professionals?
It’s critical to understand the market and make smart business decisions to operate successfully under the NDIS.
Only you can determine whether your business model aligns well with the opportunity the NDIS provides, but here’s some things to consider:
- The NDIS is significant: It’s a national scheme with a lot of resources and commitments from all levels of government driving it forward, despite the issues with its rollout. It’s likely to be the vehicle for funding within this market for a long time, even if the details change.
- The market is big and growing: The NDIS sees funding for the sector increase to $22 billion per year. It's with an increase in the number of people who can access supports from around 30,000 to 460,000 by the end of 2019-20. That’s a lot of potential customers who have decisions to make about which providers they want to work with.
Given the size of the opportunity, it’s clear that many allied health professionals will seek to play a part in delivering the NDIS.
What can allied health services do to increase business success?
NDIS can be a highly attractive way to establish and maintain a dependable customer base, depending on factors such as your overheads, service approach, and local demand.
It may only make up part of your business, for specific services where you will see a return on the investment required to maintain compliance with the scheme. Or you may seek to market yourself only to self-managed participants that are able to choose to engage any provider (registered or not).
Running an effective business is already challenging. While the NDIS represents an excellent opportunity, it does add a layer of complexity so it’s important to prepare yourself to take full advantage.
Explore these ideas in order to lay a solid groundwork and future-proof your business:
1. Understand the NDIS
Use the resources available on the NDIS website to understand what your qualifications enable you to deliver (Guide to Suitability) and how much you can charge (Pricing Guide), business terms offered by the NDIA, quality framework, reporting requirements and so on. It may be helpful to complete allied health courses designed to prepare you for the NDIS, such as the online training offered by Disability Services Consulting.
2. Research the market and create a plan
If you haven’t got a roadmap, it’s easy to be steered off course. By investing time in research and planning, you can gain a better understanding of your costs, establish your competitive advantage, and develop contingency plans for engaging clients and generating profits. The NDIS website includes greater detail about the emerging marketplace, including market position statements by State level designed for prospective providers of supports.
3. Mitigate the administrative burden
What you can charge for specific tasks and time is highly prescribed, you need to find ways to maximise your efficiency. In most cases, you’re not able to recoup the cost of administrative tasks, which can be intensive when working with NDIS participants. Establishing processes and business systems that minimise time spent on recording, collating and analysing information is a must. Invest in software that eliminates most of the manual effort required to securely and legally manage and share data about clients and prepare reports for funders. Your time is always better spent on delivery or growing your business—you need this mindset to thrive.
These approaches not only help you with the ‘nuts and bolts’ of running a successful NDIS business, they will also make you more attractive to potential clients who have control over their funds. Participants have the power—and your ability to demonstrate your knowledge and professionalism in the NDIS marketplace will make you a more trusted choice.
Comm.care by Pnyx allows you to streamline your daily management and reporting efforts, so you have the time and energy to focus on providing quality care and growing your business. Learn more about Comm.care.
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