With the increase in computer power and promotion of electronic medical records, many clinicians now are collecting or soon will be collecting injury and illness surveillance data. Many clinicians envision being able to analyze these data in the future to address important clinical issues. However electronically stored data are only useful for analyses if they are collected and stored using appropriate methods. Unfortunately even popular off-the-shelf software programs often do not meet the minimal requirements to allow for informative analyses. The purpose of this overview article is to help researchers and clinicians understand the most important underlying principles necessary to choose or develop software designed to improve the management of patients' injuries and illnesses and also allow for more complex analyses in the future.