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PACE is a new NDIS system upcoming February 2024 - are you ready?

As per NDIA (the government agency managing NDIS) - the new portal called PACE was developed to streamline and enhance National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) processes.


What we understood is that PACE is an online platform that promises user-friendliness. It is designed to make the flow of information and claims relating to NDIS services more streamlined.


Pace will allow participants, providers, and other stakeholders to access and process NDIS-related information quickly and efficiently and be extendable.


This blog provides an overview of the features and benefits of the new NDIS portal called PACE.


What is changing?

According to what we have read and heard about the new system, PACE is an innovation to the existing system.


Some of the highlights of these innovations are as follows:

  • It is a configurable system with improved record-keeping functionality.

  • It offers better information handling and streamlines information sharing for users including participants and NDIS service providers.

  • It will add more controls for funds management for agency-managed service claims by providers

  • It will improve the portal's accessibility features over the current portal.

  • It will provide options for uploading NDIS plan progress reports by support coordinators.

So how do the above changes affect the way we do things with the existing PRODA system? Below are the changes in detail -


1. THE CLAIMING PROCESS WILL CHANGE

For agency-managed plans, there will be no manual claim process for registered service providers in the new system. The PACE system supports bulk uploads only. So for those providers who are not familiar with the bulk upload process, they must start familiarising themselves with the NDIS CSV file for bulk uploading payment claims as soon as possible. If a provider has to lodge a single claim, they can still do so by entering one line into the bulk upload claim file (CSV template available from the NDIS website here).

Claims for agency-managed plans will be processed faster if a "my provider" relationship exists. This is the title used by the Agency for Providers endorsed (chosen) by participants. In other words, participants would have told NDIS that they trusted this provider – this may be due to the long-standing support relationship between participant and provider.


Providers with existing service bookings will migrate to the updated system. This would be listed as “my providers” with some exceptions as stated by NDIA.

With no such relationship existing or registered on the system, the payment will be delayed up to 10 days or more as NDIS has introduced a layer (added process) of checking with participants for such claims before they can be processed.

No change for plan-managed clients. So, plan-managed clients will see no difference in provider payments. Would this change lead more participants to move towards plan management as an option – time will tell.


With the above changes, NDIA is trying to reduce NDIS service providers' administrative workload by removing service bookings. However, at the same time trying to control overspending on services that are not monitored very accurately by registered providers and yet claims are made from existing service bookings.


2. CHANGES TO PROVIDER REPORTING AND INFORMATION SHARING

Reporting templates will be provided on the portal for NDIS Support Coordinators and psychosocial recovery coaches. This may be due to NDIS hoping to streamline the reporting process.


The updated system will give NDIS support coordinators who are not registered with the NDIS portal access as well.


A new Request for Service process for support coordinators will be introduced with better notification features.


Notifications and reminders for submitting timely reports by coordinators are also introduced to ensure reporting accuracy.


It seems that NDIS is seriously improving the reporting process and timing accuracy. The reports uploaded to the new system will be similar to the ones already available on the NDIA website here.


3. CHANGE TO PARTICIPANT AND PLAN INFORMATION VISIBILITY

Plan and participant information visibility would be provided to service providers based on the supports they offer as follows:

NDIS plan managers would auto­matically get access to basic participant information and budgets. I would assume this would be an excellent change as we as plan managers face some inconvenience if plan budget information is not shared with plan managers by default. In addition, we have to rely on a copy of the NDIS plan each time a plan changes/resets or rolls over.


Support coordinators and other providers will not be able to see client-related information unless participants consent.


A table below from NDIS may help you better understand this change –

ndis pace portal information access chart
Provided by NDIA - NDIS pace portal information access chart

How was PACE tested?

We'll look in this article at why the change and how it may affect the way service providers & participants will work with this new portal called PACE.

To date, Tasmania as an NDIS trial site, has extensively tested the portal. Tasmania was chosen as a trial site due to its diversity of participants and a small number of cross-border providers.

In Tasmania, from the Test commencement until July 23 - 4,600 participants received their NDIS plans in the new system PACE. There are 330 service providers operational and supporting PACE participants in Tasmania. Over 200,000 claims worth $78 million and over are processed via PACE.

Pretty believable success indicators - yes?

So far, we do not have much detail, on what were the actual challenges faced. Based on the information we have at the moment, we aren't sure if the system is a success. However, since the system is expandable and configurable, fixes will continue as we move forward.


NIDS reported to have acquired valuable insights from trials in Tasmania as to how PACE operates in the real-time world and what needs to be done before implementing the change across Australia.

Also, we don't have data from any participants or provider satisfaction surveys, so we don't have the full picture as yet - however, whether we like it or not the transition to the new system is fast approaching.


Transition plan by NDIA

Before moving to the new system, NDIA stated that if a plan or activity is in the current system, it will be completed.

NDIA has said they will work with participants to develop their revised PACE plan. Below is the timeline we know from NDIA -


Between Nov 2023 and Feb 2027 - Transition begins for plans expiring within this period. However, NDIA stated that within this period, they would check with participants if the current system works for them. They would like to continue their plan in the current system. If this is not the case, the plan will be developed using this new system.

From February 2024, all expired NDIS plans will transition to the new system.


How to learn more about PACE?

Registered providers can access the learning environment via PRODA using their existing login details. A separate tile is created and found at the end of all tiles within the current NDIS portal system accessed via PRODA.


NDIS has also created an updated website which is currently in BETA. The website can be accessed from the link - https://improvements.ndis.gov.au


NDIS has committed to delivering and providing more resources regarding the changes as it progresses towards a full-phase transition of its PACE system.


Summary / Conclusion

Overall based on your reading of this article, what do you think about the change?


Does it sound positive?


Well for us, we think more refinement to the information-sharing process and streamlining support coordination reporting would definitely make things look neater on the ground. However, the change to the claim process for agency-managed plans will certainly inconvenience NDIS registered providers from a cash flow perspective as payments for their claims will slow.


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