This two-day conference provided health practitioners, health information specialists and IT professionals with an overview of key developments in electronic health records. Perspectives were provided by a range of presenters covering topics including: linkage of health information technology with quality healthcare; strategies for building a national electronic health information system; Australian State/Territory and Commonwealth initiatives in e-health; standards and latest developments from NEHTA (National E Health Transition Authority). Below is a summary of the key issues presented during the conference. Dr David Bates, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, gave an interesting presentation titled Making the connection: health information technology and quality healthcare. Professor Bates has published extensively in the area of health IT and its link to quality improvement. He summarised the published quantified rates of adverse events internationally as approximately 10% of patients in developed countries and proposed that these errors could be reduced with systems improvements in IT and healthcare. Electronic systems would make errors less likely, catch those that occurred, and assist with measuring quality. These new electronic systems can improve communication between health professionals, make knowledge more accessible, assist with calculations and monitoring and provide decision support for clinicians. Professor Bates acknowledged that IT implementations were challenging and spoke about the role of the Internet in making information more available for consumers. He presented some case studies from the US of specific improvements in safety as a result of technology, including computerised physician order entry systems, bar coding, smart pumps and smart monitoring, computerised notification about critical test results and computerised adverse event monitoring. He highlighted the importance of interoperability of systems between sites and levels of care (community and hospital) and stated that easy wins could be achieved by automation of laboratories, medications, radiology and referrals. Incentives were needed for clinicians to engage in technology projects and these could include education, involvement in the development of systems and presenting clinicians with possible improved outcomes if using electronic health records. Professor Bates concluded by proposing that the essential ingredient required to transform healthcare was an electronic health record with decision support at the point of care.