CMS' Elizabeth Holland: There's a lot of misinformation out there about Meaningful Use

For providers participating in the Meaningful Use Incentive program, as well as for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 2014 will be an important year, according to Elizabeth Holland (pictured), director of the Health IT Initiatives Group at CMS. While a lot of progress has been made, she said, providers continue to encounter some road bumps as they move to Stage 2 of the program.

In an exclusive interview with FierceEMR, Holland talked about some of those hurdles, as well as CMS' newest resource, eHealth University, which was launched this week at HIMSS14 in Orlando, Fla.

FierceEMR:  What are some of the top priorities of the Meaningful Use program at present?

Holland: We're most busy with eligible professionals attesting. The deadline for attesting for 2013 was extended to March 31. On our top day we had almost 7,000 attesting and we were amazed at how many of them were new people. We had over 20,000 new people attesting [to Meaningful Use] in January and February. There are 3,000 people a day attesting on average. Also, some hospitals got extra time to attest. Any eligible hospital that has previously participated and wants to attest for 2013 can contact CMS.

FierceEMR:  How is Stage 2 of the program rolling out?

Holland: A regulation only goes so far. People don't' know what they don't know. We get the real questions once people start [implementing Stage 2].  There's a lot of misinformation. We need to do a lot of education. We're expecting to have a lot more guidance out in the next month or so, especially about patient engagement.

FierceEMR:  What is eHealth University, CMS' newest resource?

Holland: It's an attempt to bring together information into an information hub. It draws connections for people so they can see how all of the different programs interact. If you have questions about Meaningful Use and ICD-10 you don't have to go to two different places.

FierceEMR:  Will the sustainable growth rate bill being considered by Congress impact the Meaningful Use program? 

Holland: I haven't seen the latest version of the bill, but the main change is how payment adjustments would be applied. They'd be levied not by me but by someone else at CMS. We'll do whatever becomes law.  

FierceEMR: What's your overall view of the Meaningful Use program?

Holland: We're very happy by the number of providers in Meaningful Use, more than 80 percent of eligible hospitals and 60 percent of eligible professionals. It's really made a big impact in moving providers from paper records to electronic records and moving people up the escalator to achieve more interoperability and better outcomes.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.