Bonded Return of Service — BROSS Alpha Assessment

The Bonded Medical Program provides students a Commonwealth supported place in a medical course at an Australian university in return for a commitment to work in regional, rural or remote areas for a specified period.

The Bonded Medical Program was established in 2001. There are two schemes; the Medical Rural Bonded Scholarship (MRBS) and the Bonded Medical Places (BMP) Scheme. The MRBS Scheme closed to new participants after the 2015 academic year.

To date more than 10,000 participants have participated. Over 4,500 of these participants are currently completing their medical course at one of the 20 Australian universities participating in the program. From 1 January 2020, applicants will enter the program under a modernised BMP Scheme.

The Rural Access Branch (RAB) is working in collaboration with the Data Services Branch (DSB) on the Enhancements to Bonded Programs project. RAB has engaged DSB to develop and implement a solution to support enhancements to the Bonded Medical Places (BMP) Scheme and Medical Rural Bonded Scholarship (MRBS) Scheme. These enhancements will support the provision of vocationally recognised (VR) Australian trained doctors in rural and remote areas and areas of workforce shortage.

The project is running over 3 years, commencing in July 2018 and due to finish in June 2021.

The IT component of the Enhancements to Bonded Programs project will define and deliver an application (BRoSS) that provides:

  • data from existing data sources
  • secure access for users, this includes internal Health users and external authenticated users (using either AUSkey or myGov depending on the type of external user)
  • an intuitive browser based interface for use by scheme recipients, university administrators and Health administrators
  • an intuitive mobile phone application for use by scheme recipients
  • pre-defined reports for Health administrators of the bonded programs.

Project objectives

The key objectives of the Enhancements to Bonded Programs project from an IT project perspective are to:

  • support the migration of FOFMS data into the new application
  • support the migration existing participant TRIM records to a new TRIM repository
  • build an application to support administration of the BMP Scheme and MRBS Scheme
  • build an application to support self-management by recipients within the BMP Scheme and MRBS Scheme
  • provide safe and secure access to bonded programs data and TRIM records using existing processes
  • provide timely management information to Health stakeholders.

Desired outputs

The Enhancements to Bonded Programs IT project will produce two key outputs, which will support the administration of bonded programs:

  • automated data feed out of the Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) e.g. Medicare Provider numbers, MBS billing information in order to supply this data to BRoSS
  • bonded Programs application (BRoSS) that enables:
    • recipient enrolment and registration
    • tracking of attainment of recipient key milestones
    • recipient maintenance and/or administration
    • return of Service Obligation (RoSO) administration o Reporting, both operational and into the EDW.

Criterion 1: Understand user needs

In advance of the project a major initiative to improve the user experience was undertaken to combine the process from two different departments, DHS and Health to be centralized under health. It was also considered outdated and no longer fit for purpose.

The team provided a strong understanding of their external user groups and demonstrated depth knowledge of their user’s journey throughout the life cycle of the bonded medical process.

The identified pain points for resolution have been well documented being:

  • the department is not able to effectively manage and monitor bonded students and doctors to ensure they are on track to meet their Return of Service Obligation (RoSO), as they move through the different phases of the 18 year long program
  • bonded students and doctors are not able to self-manage their information
  • bonded students and doctors are not able to effectively plan their RoSO
  • support organisations are not able to self-serve information on bonded students and doctors in their location.

A detailed explanation was provided regarding the main users groups and how the new system will address their pain points as follows:

  • BRoSS will provide the Department with the ability to review and monitor RoSO plans registered by participants
  • BRoSS will provide the participants the ability to self-manage their information, including update contact and work details
  • participants will be able to create and save multiple different RoSO plans (scenarios) of how they might be able to meet their obligations
  • universities will be able to register applicants directly into BRoSS and access a full list of bonded students for their university
  • BRoSS will provide Rural Workforce Agencies with access to contact information for bonded students in their state.

Each of the nominated groups including internal health users will benefit from the introduction of the new system and portal. The team was able to articulate the pain points felt by their external user groups under both the old and new bonded medical process. One focus point was the capacity to self-serve on status as well as being able to monitor the status of an application and the application processing time post submission to the Department of Health.

Throughout the discovery and requirements gathering phase of the project, the team engaged with users in several workshops identify high level requirements. User research interviews were conducted with the following groups:

Members of the Rural Support Section

  • members of the Call and Information Centre (CIC)
  • admissions officers from universities offering both undergraduate and postgraduate courses
  • Rural Workforce Agencies.

In addition, research was conducted by reviewing three months of CIC reports detailing number of calls, the subject of the majority of calls for the month and trends. Five user personas were created based on the information gathered.

The panel recommends that the team consider approaching a select group of external stakeholders directly outside of workshops to further test the prototypes in a one on one setting. It is also recommended to engage more widely across the full spectrum of impacted users where possible and feasible.

Criterion 2: Have a multidisciplinary team

The project team responsible for design and delivery of the project is diverse in nature and are well represented by Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) which is demonstrated by business participation in all agile related ceremonies (daily stand-ups; sprint planning session; sprint reviews and sprint retrospectives). The creation of a supportive management structure provided a positive impact and helped form a successful and multidisciplinary team.

The product owner has empowered the SMEs, and decisions on the project scope and direction have been made at the appropriate level. Senior executive support is available when required and at the appropriate times.

Further to the above, members of the technical development team were also able to articulate the business’s end user groups and have a sound understanding of the current business scenarios as well as the future state implementation of the solution.

Criterion 3: Agile and user-centered process

The team is effectively using agile (Scrum) processes and is aligning work appropriately against the Digital Transformation Agency’s (DTA) Digital Service Standard.

The project has first targeted the applicants with the first MVP and release. Further releases will target other main users’ groups and add to the existing MVP as the project continues in the delivery and implementation phases.

The panel discussed the lack of a full private beta in the production environment. This is due to the time constraints between student obtaining marks and the need to apply for existing spots (28% roughly being bonded spots).

The panel recommends that the team continue to develop alpha based prototypes as additional functionality becomes available relevant to an expanded user group, and consult externally for feedback on those prototypes.

The panel congratulates the team on their performance and provides the following recommendations as feedback:

  • that the team consider approaching a select group of external stakeholders directly outside of workshops to further test the prototypes in a one on one setting
  • to engage more widely across the full spectrum of impacted users where possible and feasible
  • the team continue to develop alpha based prototypes as additional functionality becomes available relevant to an expanded user group, and consult externally for feedback on those prototypes.

Assessment against the Digital Service Standard

Criterion Result
1 Pass
2 Pass
3 Pass
4 On track
5 On track
6 On track
7 On track
8 On track
9 On track
10 On track
11 On track
12 On track
13 On track