Investment in information and communication technology (ICT) in the health sector can bring important benefits. To date, the focus has been on automating clinical work practices such as ordering tests and prescriptions, which significantly improves efficiency and safety. Uptake of ICT has been slow and the results less favourable than anticipated for various reasons, including poor integration of systems into complex clinical work processes, limited training, and the intermittent nature of ICT funding. As a result, many health care organisations have been operating hybrid paper and computer systems that introduce new patient risks, staff frustration, and outcomes below expectation. The focus must shift from automation of clinical work to innovation; from evolutionary application of ICT to revolutionary uses. Health professionals must embrace ICT as a "disruptive technology" that will produce significant changes in their roles and responsibilities and lead to real health reform with new, innovative models of health care delivery. As other industries have shown, substitution and role changes are areas in which ICT can lead to the greatest gains.