Oncologists and oncology office managers may be breathing a sigh of relief. In a recent blog post and echoed on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) web site, Robert Tagalicod, director of the CMS Office of E-Health Standards and Services and acting National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Jacob Reider, MD, announced that the deadline for stage 2 of the meaningful use program would be extended through 2016. As a result of the delay, the deadline for stage 3 completion is pushed to 2017.
Physicians who have already met stage 1 requirements can begin reporting compliance with stage 2 meaningful-use objectives.
Under the revised timeline, stage 2 will be extended through 2016 and stage 3 will begin in 2017 for providers that have completed at least two years in stage 2. The delay allows CMS and ONC to focus efforts on the successful implementation of the enhanced patient engagement, interoperability, and health information exchange requirements in stage 2. The data collected during the extended deadline of stage 2 will be used to inform policy decisions for stage 3.
Providers who are noncompliant—ie, do not have a meaningful use electronic health records (EHR) system—stand to lose substantial compensation through Medicare payment reductions. Those providers applying for stage 2 incentives must meet 17 core objectives and at least 3 menu objectives, which, in the case of oncologists, include reporting new cases of cancer to the appropriate state registry (Table
). A summary of the requirements for practices to be stage 2 compliant is available on the American Society of Clinical Oncologists’ website
Meaningful use stage 2 requirements will extend the requirements of stage 1, resulting in more electronic transactions. Also, some optional objectives from stage 1 will move to the core list of stage 2. That means that objectives such as submitting data to public health agencies and adding laboratory results to EHR systems will be required in stage 2. Finally, stage 2 will incorporate a group of new requirements, many related to providing patients with access to their own medical records. This last requirement is the most drastic change from stage 1 to stage 2.