A tool developed by the Department for Work Pensions (DWP) to help third party health and disability assessors record their assessments electronically is now up and running, the department has confirmed.
DWP’s Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Assessment Tool (PIPAT) which was developed to provide a standard assessment report for providers has now been introduced with a mobile version of the tool due to start private beta in the spring.
The previous lack of availability of the tool was referred to in a recent National Audit Office (NAO) report into contracted out health and disability assessments.
In section 1.17 of its report published in early January, the NAO said, “The department has also spent more than expected because of delays in setting-up PIP systems. It was delayed in developing an IT tool for providers to record assessments electronically, planned for October 2013, and has not yet introduced this for most claims.
“The department told us it preferred to wait until backlogs had reduced. Providers told us the system is not yet ready and they have continued to conduct assessments using their own systems or manually, costing the department an estimated £76m more,” the report said.
Now, DWP has updated the picture regarding the tool’s introduction. It said the tool was developed to provide a standard assessment report for providers, which is now being used by providers for Special Rules Terminally Ill cases.
PIPAT was designed and delivered in October 2013 as DWP provisioned IT to lead health professionals through the daily living and mobility entitlement criteria, to ensure a good claimant experience, and improve the quality and consistency of medical reports, as well as the advice provided to DWP PIP operational case workers.
PIPAT is intended to allow all the details needed to carry out an assessment to be stored and worked on in one place by providers. Using PIPAT, DWP said, healthcare providers can see all documents relating to a PIP claim, including the claim form and supporting medical evidence.
The department added that a mobile version of the tool, PIPAT Mobile, which supports face-to-face assessments in claimants’ homes and assessment centres, has since been developed, meaning the assessments can be performed without an Internet connection and uploaded directly to DWP systems. The department said the new service helps to improve the quality and efficiency of assessments, adding that the feedback it has had from providers has been positive.
DWP said health professionals can expect to receive the PIPAT Mobile tool in the spring when it is due to start its private beta trial.
The department said the key benefits of the mobile tool include:
– Reducing the time it takes for assessments to be returned to DWP.
– Removing the need for inputting into the PIP Computer System (PIPCS), effectively ending double working.
– Speeding the process up and enabling consistency across suppliers. Removing the need for printing, couriers and scanning as well as attached costs and carbon footprint.
– Improving the quality of assessments.
– Allowing health professionals to download evidence earlier to help their preparation.
– Allowing full assessments to be conducted in claimants’ homes.