The 13th World Congress on Medical and Health Informatics (Medinfo) was held in 2010 between 12 and 15 September in Cape Town, South Africa. This triennial international gathering is the official conference of the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) and brings together leading health informatics leaders, scientists, clinicians, researchers, vendors, developers and government and health care planners from around the globe. The conference attracted 905 submissions and resulted in a program that included 260 oral presentations, 349 posters presentations and 21 scientific demonstrations representing contributions from 58 countries. The Medinfo program covered all aspects of health informatics from traditional areas, such as hospital information systems, patient registries, nursing informatics, data integration, standards, interoperability issues and decision support, to innovative topics, such as translational bioinformatics, text mining, intelligent data analysis, emerging technologies, quality, social networking, workflow and organizational issues. The outgoing President of the IMIA, Professor Reinhold Haux, presented on health informatics challenges into the future, reinforcing that today and in the future, health care has to be considered as part of a continuous and coordinated life-time journey and not just as episodes of disease. Medical informatics has a key role to play in this paradigm shift. The new IMIA President, Professor Antoine Geissbuhler, was announced at the closing ceremony. The next Medinfo congress will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark, in September 2013.