The National Disability and Insurance Agency has cast doubt on its eMarketplace platform being ready in time for the start of the full national disability insurance scheme rollout next July, but says it remains committed to the idea.
The eMarketplace aims to give NDIS participants greater access to goods and services, and providers an arena to offer services.
It is the backbone of the agency’s plan to shift towards a market-based system that allows participants choice and control over services, and will become a central source of data for analysis when introduced.
But in response to questions on notice from May budget estimates, the agency warned that a failure to find or develop an appropriate technology platform could set back delivery of the online trading portal.
"There are no known blockages or barriers, however the NDIS eMarket will depend on the development or availability of an appropriate technology platform and operating model which captures the advances in technology for emerging eMarkets," the agency said.
It wouldn’t say when the platform will be ready, only that it "will be launched at the appropriate time once developed". A fully functioning version of the eMarketplace was previously planned to be up and running by 2018.
The agency is performing a review of the work done so far in consultation with the Department of Human Services to ensure that it aligns with the participant and provider pathway review.
The decision to wait for the appropriate time to launch the portal follows last year’s high-profile IT failure that saw care providers blocked from receiving payments through the MyPlace portal for weeks.
Auditors subsequently found the IT issues had stemmed from a range of weaknesses, including rushed implementation of the portals and testing shortfalls.
The NDIA has similarly indicated that it needs to think through how its Nadia virtual assistant will be used, and has not set a public release date. The bot is expected to be used to interact with the eMarketplace as well as several other online offerings.
NSW and South Australia will kick off the full scheme from next July after two years of transition, accounting for just over 170,000 of the 460,000 participants. Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory will follow in July 2019.