Complex or wicked problems, such as inequality in access to health services, can be difficult to solve. The current healthcare system in Australia is not equally accessible by people living in rural and remote areas.
These regions suffer from a severe deficit of allied health services such as speech pathology and occupational therapy, which enable people to participate in society better. Even though these families constitute 30% of the Australian population, only 4.5% of speech pathology practitioners provide service to them. Families report travelling long distances, extensive waiting times and workforce shortages resulting in difficulties accessing therapy and high levels of unmet need.
The long-term impacts of not receiving allied health services are well documented, ranging from poor literacy and numeracy development to long term unemployment, social isolation, increased morbidity associated with disability and long-term poor health and economic outcomes.
At Umbo, our core purpose is to mitigate these outcomes by providing quality care and support.
While the government and non-profit sectors play an important role in addressing this issue, there is also a valid role for innovative social enterprises to play. We work from a collaborative model of care – working with families, support workers and also partnerships within communities and the wider for-purpose sector.
Umbo is a social enterprise startup that seeks to bring occupational therapy and speech pathology services to families living in rural and remote Australia via online therapy. Umbo’s model seeks to specifically find those families who are missing out, often waiting up to 18 months for services, and then training clinicians to work online to service these communities.
As a social enterprise, Umbo’s constitutional mission is to deliver services for these families and is committed to reinvesting 50% of profits into achieving our social purpose. That commitment is at the core of everything we do, and transparency on how we achieve it is vital through our social impact reporting.
If you want to find out more about the complexity of allied health services in regional and rural areas of Australia, please read our white paper located here.
Our impact in numbers
How we measure these indicators
We measure the percentage of our clients who live in regional and rural areas using the Modified Monash Model (MMM) for the client's home postcode. Clients who live in a location with an MMM score of more than 1 are considered to live in a regional or rural area.
The travel time saved per client is estimated using the travel time allowances for direct consultations in the NDIS Pricing Arrangements and Price Limits, which are based on the MMM score for the location. For example, a therapist seeing a client in a location with an MMM score of 4-5 is allowed to charge 60 minutes of travel time to reach the client, and an additional 60 minutes of travel time to go back to their usual place of work. By using online therapy this travel time is saved.
The total NDIS funding saved is also estimated using the NDIS Pricing Arrangements and Price Limits. Therapists are allowed to charge their full hourly rate for travel time as well as a per km rate for travel costs. In locations with an MMM score of 6-7 the NDIS also allows therapists to charge a higher hourly rate. By using online therapy Umbo is able to charge the standard hourly rate, regardless of the client's location, and the therapist does not have to charge travel time or travel costs. This results in a saving of funds, which the client can use to receive more hours of therapy or other support. On average, Umbo clients are able to receive double the amount of therapy with the same NDIS funding as a result of these savings.
Umbo conducts regular client satisfaction and feedback surveys. Our session feedback surveys include a 5 point rating scale for the client to rate how satisfied they were with their recent session. We track the average of these scores to measure client satisfaction with our services.