AbstractIn this article the author outlines the key issues in the development of a regional health information infrastructure suitable for public health data collections. A set of 10 basic design and development principles as used and validated in the development of the successful New Zealand National Health Information Infrastructure in 1993 are put forward as a basis for future developments. The article emphasises the importance of securing clinical input into any health data that is collected, and suggests strategies whereby this may be achieved, including creating an information economy alongside the care economy. It is suggested that the role of government in such developments is to demonstrate leadership, to work with the sector to develop data, messaging and security standards, to establish key online indexes, to develop data warehouses and to create financial incentives for adoption of the infrastructure and the services it delivers to users. However experience suggests that government should refrain from getting involved in local care services data infrastructure, technology and management issues.
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