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NB Health Information Company Signs Deal With Gov’t Of Barbados

Health information company Populus Global Solutions has won an international bid to supply the Government of Barbados with a fully-integrated national electronic health information system – its fourth major contract in the Caribbean-Central American market.

Fredericton-based Populus, which received a $260,000 investment from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation several year ago, has commercialized software for running an electronic health information system, or HIS. It has been recognized by the World Health Organization as one of the best all-encompassing systems of its kind, said the company.

“We have developed a big data, health software product that manages more than 1 million transactions every day,” said Populus CEO Tristan Rutter in a statement. “Harnessing the power of our Canadian technology, governments like Barbados are proving that we can expand access to healthcare, reduce the burden of disease and save money all at the same time.”

Populus began to gain traction in 2007 when it sold a system to the government of Belize. Though located in Central America, Belize is a member of Caricom, the Caribbean Community, and word began to spread through the island nations of the strength of the Populus system. In the past seven years, Populus has installed national HIS products in St. Lucia and in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and now in Barbados.

In an interview, Rutter said the company did not set out to become a supplier to Caribbean customers but it simply gained traction there. And it hopes its success in Barbados can help it expand to other markets.

“What this really means to us is Barbados is a country that everyone knows,” he said. “The hospital is a 600-bed facility that does a full range of [procedures]. . . . “What Barbados means is to us is validation. It’s the opportunity to refine the process.”

Populus will provide every Barbadian citizen with an electronic medical record and electronically tie all its doctors, hospitals, clinics and pharmacies together under one cloud-based integrated system. The features of the system include: E-prescribing with inventory control; embedded disease management protocols; data analytics complete with real-time reporting; and billing.

“The entire system will be up and running within nine months at cost of less than ten dollars per citizen,” added Rutter.

He said the company’s priority in the near-term is to install the system properly in Barbados, but it is also planning to grow in more markets. It now has about 18 employees, 15 of them in Fredericton. It has only done one round of fundraising with NBIF and a group of angels mainly based in Atlantic Canada. The company’s board has discussed raising more capital, but has no immediate plans, Rutter said.

In the long-term, the company wants to get into the Canadian market and believes it can help governments improve service and save money. Rutter notes that Canadian healthcare spending rose 54 percent between 2002 and 2010 and that did nothing to improve mortality rates. He believes the country is at a crossroads in terms of healthcare and will have to adopt new technologies.

“Out of my office in Fredericton, I look out at the Department of Health,” he said. “Do I want my software running there? Yeah I do.”