When people talk about data exchange and interoperability, the term HISP (Health Information Service Provider) inevitably comes up.

But what exactly is a HISP?

In a nutshell, a HISP securely transports encrypted health information, such as images, reports and Clinical Document Architecture (CDAs), in a standardized format from one healthcare provider to another, facilitating seamless information exchange.

A HISP works a little bit like an email service company. Just as an individual uses Gmail to communicate with friends who have either Google or another service provider like Yahoo, different HISPs can exchange information between various healthcare settings. If two healthcare providers have the same HISP, information moves directly between provider computers. If two providers have different yet compatible HISPs, the information leaves one provider’s HISP, is securely sent to the other provider’s HISP and is then forwarded on to the other provider’s computer.

Organizations will most likely need to utilize a HISP in order to comply with Meaningful Use Stage 2—more specifically, Core Measure 15—which requires organizations to engage in direct provider to provider data exchange.

When selecting a HISP, organizations should make sure to choose one that is certified by the Direct Trusted Agent Accreditation Program (DTAAP). This accrediting body verifies that a HISP provider is a trusted entity with appropriate security protocols and business practices in place to safely transmit information. Certified HISPs can seamlessly communicate with one another, enabling interoperability. Conversely, an uncertified HISP may not be able to share information with as many other HISP providers, thus limiting an organization’s data exchange reach.

Leveraging NextGen technology to connect with a HISP makes your NextGen system interoperable with anyone else connected to that HISP and any other HISP in your HISP’s trust bundle. Not only will this enhance your communication and information sharing capabilities, it will ensure you support better transitions between care settings and a more informed patient care experience across the continuum.

 Read more about Interoperability and preparing for Meaningful Use.