Report on the regulatory framework for hearing services

Contracted Service Providers

Review of the efficiency and effectiveness of the regulatory framework for hearing services July 2012. The Report was prepared for the Office of Hearing Services by MP Consulting

Page last updated: 28 November 2012

In order to receive funding for the provision of hearing services to voucher holders, service providers must:

  • be accredited
    • In summary, applicants must provide information to OHS about: the applicant organisation; its staffing profile; its financial viability and its sites.
    • This information is assessed by the OHS and a service is granted accreditation if the delegate of the Minister (an officer within OHS) is satisfied that it is in the best interests of persons receiving hearing services having regard to matters such as the applicant’s experience, staff, premises, capacity and financial viability.
    • The process of accreditation is discussed in more detail in Chapter 5.
  • enter into a contract with the Commonwealth (as represented by OHS)
    • If the applicant achieves accreditation, the Australian Government offers the organisation a service provider contract. Following execution of the contract, a service provider number and site ID is issued by the OHS and the provider is then able to provide services under the voucher program and claim payments from the government for provision of such services.
  • be aware of, and comply with, a range of ongoing obligations. These obligations are described in the contracts (service provider contract and Deed of Standing Offer) and in legislation (the Act and delegated legislation)

    • Once a contracted service provider commences providing services to voucher holders, it must meet a range of obligations.
    • These obligations relate to a wide range of matters including: professional standards; record keeping; referrals; sites from which hearing services may be provided; required policies and procedures; and required outcomes.
    • Some of these obligations are general, outcomes based obligations. For example – ‘practitioners must provide a program to clients to better manage their life with hearing loss’ (outcome 3 of the Hearing Rehabilitation Outcomes for Voucher Holders). Others are very specific and prescriptive. For example: service providers must ensure that any advertisement referring to services or devices provided to voucher holders includes the words ‘conditions apply to clients under the Australian Government Hearing Services Program’ (sub-clause 8(3) of the contract).
    • The service provider obligations are described in 10 different regulatory documents (some of which are legislative and some contractual This only refers to source documents which impose legal obligations on service providers. This excludes documents that describe or interpret requirements such as administrative guidelines. It also excludes 4 other legislative determinations which establish the scheme but do not impose any obligations directly on the service providers (noting that providers must, however, be familiar with these determinations).). Overall there are over 100 discrete, positive obligations on the contracted service provider (noting that a number of these overlap).
    • This is discussed in more detail in Chapter 5.
  • seek approval from, or notify, the OHS of certain changes to the provider’s business structure or operations
    • Once a provider has met the accreditation requirements and entered a contract with the Commonwealth, there are a range of circumstances in which the service provider must notify or seek further approval from the OHS. For example, providers must notify the OHS to commence using a new site or to utilise a remote site.
  • submit claims for payment utilising the schedule of service items which forms a schedule to the service provider contract
  • participate in the OHS’s post market monitoring and compliance regime.