In 2020, the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) was awarded a State Justice Institute (SJI) Technical Assistance grant to retain the services of Catalis by Court Innovations, Inc. (Catalis) to assist the AOC with developing and implementing an online platform to resolve medical debt disputes in Hamilton County, TN, before a lawsuit is filed. The goal is to establish similar programs in other areas of the state. The ultimate goal is to establish a statewide platform for multiple types of debt collection.
The goal of the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) medical debt pilot is to create an easy-to-understand application using technology, legal assistance, mediation and judicial resources to provide a model for pre-court filing resolution services. Such services would minimize burdens on the courts and enhance access to justice for the state’s citizens in a manner that is asynchronous and available 24/7. If successful, the pilot can serve as a desirable tool for claim resolution across the state in many areas of legal claims in addition to medical debt.
The platform was launched Fall 2020. Phase 1 of the pilot was completed December 31, 2021. Erlanger Health System sent 238 email ODR invites to individuals. Of those 238 people who had previously been unresponsive to Erlanger, 66 of them engaged Erlanger as a direct result of that ODR email invitation, resulting in an overall response rate of 28%. Currently, 300 cases have been uploaded to the platform. The Steering Committee’s goal for phase 2 is to present an update to the Tennessee General Sessions Court Winter Conference, January 2024. The update will include the case data generated from the new report form as well as a call for new hospitals and courts to join the pilot.