ZDNet discussed the work with Joe Hartley (right), who runs global government education and health care for Sun.
Sun's role covered the software, NHIN-Connect, which includes its GlassFish open source application platform, the Java Composite Application Platform Suite (CAPS) SOA Platform, and the Sun Java Identity Management suite.
"Our technology is controlling part of the the NHIN-Connect project. The fact we're being used is news. It was a well-kept secret," he said. Hartley said the project is based on a Sun open source "stack."
The development of NHIN is an important part of the government's efforts to link Regional Health Information Exchanges (RHIE) into a national system, both for moving individual patient data and collecting data which can inform care decision recommendations.
Despite the fact that the work was done under contracts signed by the Bush Administration, NHIN is expected to be a top priority for the new National Health IT Coordinator, David Blumenthal.
The first link in the NHIN chain was made in February between the Social Security and MedVirginia, a statewide Health Information Exchange. Over the course of the year 14 federal agencies are expected to link with the system.
Hartley said deployment took over four years of development work. "It has been well-coordinated," he said.
As to private concerns under HIPAA, Hartley noted that Sun does as much government work outside the U.S. as inside, and that private restrictions in Europe are even more stringent than here.