Christchurch software company Emendo has won a $2.5 million deal to supply six Vancouver hospitals with an application that is designed to forecast how busy they will be, so they can better roster staff and plan ahead. The software, CapPlan, takes data from patient management systems, analyses trends, and can take into account other factors, such as the weather, to generate forecasts that can be a few hours or up to five years ahead. Hospital staff can see how many patients have been admitted, how many beds are occupied and patients' predicted length of stay. The deal with Vancouver Coastal Health authority, which serves a population of one million, follows a one-year trial at its Richmond Hospital, and comes on the heels of Emendo securing two contracts in Australia together worth between $5m and $10m over three years. Four New Zealand district health boards and Britain's Bedford Hospital also use CapPlan. Canterbury District Health Authority business development manager Richard Hamilton estimated last year that it had saved Christchurch Hospital $2m over four years by helping it forecast workloads each Christmas. It had also cut the average length of patient stays by half a day, by making staff more aware of what was going on in the hospital, he said. Last year Bedford Hospital won an award for innovation, sponsored by Britain's National Health Service and its Health Department. Emendo co-founder Nick Burns said the firm had won the Vancouver contract, after a tender in which two "reputable North American" sellers also competed. "Breaking into a new export market is always a challenge, and Canada is no exception," Burns said. "Vancouver Coastal Health is ... an important reference site for us as we focus our sales efforts in North America." Emendo employs about 45 staff and has just hired its first recruit to try to break into the United States market. Burns said that would be a challenge, but with President Barack Obama's health reforms in full swing, this was the time to try.