OBJECTIVE: The objective of this article is to provide an overview of computer technology and an associated bibliography, emphasizing institutional-based healthcare applications and pharmacoinformatics. DATA SOURCES: References were selected from the authors' files and from a computerized search over the last five years on computers in healthcare/medical informatics and in pharmacy. STUDY SELECTION: Articles selected for review and discussion were considered to be important contributions to the respective areas listed in the bibliography and representative of advancements in computer applications in healthcare and pharmacy. DATA SYNTHESIS: The computer has become an important support tool for healthcare professionals. Medical informatics and the discipline related to pharmacy, called pharmacoinformatics, have evolved from the cognitive underpinnings of medicine, pharmacy, and computer science. Recent developments in computer technology have resulted in computers that are fast, increasingly portable, and user friendly. Hospital information systems employ computers in various ways to deal with the vast amount of information used by various departments. Standards for electronic data exchange are being developed to increase the integration potential of these systems. Hospital pharmacists have used computers for drug distribution, financial analysis and inventory control, drug interaction detection, pharmacokinetic dosing, drug information, and drug therapy monitoring. Expert systems are being developed in several areas of drug therapy. Pharmacy educators have developed interactive courseware to help students learn problem-solving skills in the areas of calculations, therapeutics, and drug information. Pharmacists need to become more involved with applications of technology to pharmacy. Properly implemented, computers can provide more time for pharmacists to use their cognitive skills in the delivery of pharmaceutical care.