Every week we have a CareTech Conversation with someone who we think is bringing something innovative and fresh to the aged care and disability space…
This week we sat down to have a Caretech Conversation with Elisa James, CEO of Plan Tracker, an app that helps you get the most out of your budget and support. Tracking your NDIS has never been simpler!
Careseekers: Can you tell us a bit about Plan Tracker?
Elisa: Plan Tracker is an app that helps you know where your budgets are up to, what you spend – as opposed to what you might’ve invoiced, claimed or paid for. The app has some great budgeting tools which means you can keep your receipts up in the cloud for five years and get them back any time you like nice and easy. It’s a great way to keep on top of everything that you’re doing.
Careseekers: How did you come up with the idea?
Elisa: I went along to an NDIS session back in 2015 [Note: Elisa’s son has Autism] thinking it would be a waste of time. I walked out the other end thinking this could be life changing, but only if you have control of what you’re doing and can self-direct your funding.
I’m a tech person from way back having been involved with a couple of software start-up companies and thought great, I need tech to help me. I looked around and couldn’t find anything that really helped. The NDIS is a complex structure with 15 different budget categories and different rules around what you can and can’t do, so I thought I’m just going to build something and that was the starting point for Plan Tracker.
Thinking that it’s going to be an issue for my son’s funding made me think it must be an issue for everyone else and Plan Tracker the app really just evolved from there.
Careseekers: What is the impact you’re seeing on the participants that you help?
Elisa: The main thing is it provides a really easy structure to think about how you’re going to spend your funding for the year. We have lots of people who get a big plan of money but then they’ve got to work out how to juggle it like am I going to have enough to do OT every week or do I need to do it every fortnight? With Plan Tracker, families and individuals are able to make those decisions early in their planning process.
Careseekers: How else has Plan Tracker helped?
Elisa: Sometimes life happens and you need to make a quick decision about pulling in more support, or changing from one type of service – like dropping OT and picking up some speech therapy. With Plan Tracker, you’re able to see if you can do that.
You can make a much quicker decision if you’ve got access to all your information in one place and you can see the impact it will have on your budget. Without that you either run the risk of over spending or worse still, you can’t make a decision and therefore funds sit there that could have been used.
Careseekers: What’s something exciting that Plan Tracker is currently working on?
Elisa: We’ve been working really hard this year, and will continue to work on providing plan management services as well as supporting our self-management community, so our plan management clients also get the Plan Tracker app in their hands with all the budgeting tools and features as well as being able to see at a glance exactly where they’re up to.
Careseekers: Tell us about the technology
Elisa: We chose to write both a web app and mobile apps because this provides a much better user experience.
Our web app is written using modern web technologies and our mobile apps are developed using Ionic. All our hosting is on Amazon Web Servers located here in Australia which means our data is highly secure and performance is enhanced by hosting locally.
Careseekers: What is something that you’ve recently released?
Elisa: One of the things we recently bought out was our “Week at A Glance” email, which means every Sunday night you get a clear, easy to read email with a graph of each budget and a summary of what’s happened for the week. For our self-management clients, it shows what’s coming up next week. Lots of clients love that.
We’re always working on improving and continuing to get value for our plan management clients by making that process more efficient. We put a lot of time into it!
Careseekers: What is the goal of Plan Tracker?
Elisa: To help simplify the NDIS and make sure that we can make a positive contribution to people with disabilities and their families. The way that we do that is through technology and people with great access to information and knowledge.
Careseekers: What has the feedback been like?
Elisa: We launched the app last year which was really exciting. We’ve had so many people who have said it’s been a big part of their life, because of how it’s designed to do the day-to-day of what you need.
Explore Plan Tracker here.