A Fredericton health technology company has landed another major overseas contract but its chief executive officer says it hasn’t been able to secure any contracts with the New Brunswick government.
Populus Global Solutions is going to create a system-wide health record database for the government of Barbados.
Barbados is the fourth Caribbean country to hire Populus in the last decade. Belize was the first country to hire the Fredericton company, doing so in 2004.
Dr. Peter Allen, the chief executive officer of the health ministry in Barbados, said he’s been very happy with its relationship with Populus.
"We're very happy with how the contract was handled, with the timeliness of the contract, with the costing, with the implementation of that particular project,” he said.
Private doctors pay $1,800 to install the Populus system in their offices, which is less than a quarter of the $8,000 New Brunswick physicians have been asked to pay for the record system marketed by their own medical society and a private technology company.
'Hopefully it's food for thought, in terms of the government of Barbados, when we can go in there for fixed-price and have them running a complete system for less than $2 million in about nine months. It should raise some questions.' - Tristan Rutter
Tristan Rutter, the chief executive officer of Populus, said he believes poor planning has kept his company from helping the New Brunswick government.
Rutter said his firm could have offered the same low price in New Brunswick if the provincial government hadn't turned over the running of the system to doctors.
"Had they gone a different route, had the government oversaw the tender as opposed to the private company overseen by the Medical Society and Accreon, yes, absolutely,” Rutter said.
As of February, only 240 doctors have signed up for the province's electronic medical records system.
The original goal was to have 500 of the province's 1,600 doctors signed up by Dec. 31.
The cost of the program — $8,000 per doctor even with some government subsidies — is one reason many doctors say they refused to enrol in the system. Other doctors questioned who will control patient data.
Rutter said he hopes the positive experience his company has had in Barbados and other countries will start a discussion about ways to improve the province’s e-health system.
“Hopefully it's food for thought, in terms of the government of Barbados, when we can go in there for fixed-price and have them running a complete system for less than $2 million in about nine months. It should raise some questions," he said.
Populus investors include respected business names, such as Allison McCain and Bud Bird.
Rutter said the company would like to see New Brunswick open up its system to other players, but in the meantime Populus will keep marketing its product in other countries.