QHR Technologies Is Becoming a Health Player

What was once a small software startup in Kelowna is quickly growing to supply health-care authorities across Canada.

What was once a small software startup in Kelowna is quickly growing to supply health-care authorities across Canada.

QHR Technologies Inc. started in 1997 offering automated payroll software for hospital managers. It went public through a reverse takeover of a resource shell company in 2000 and has carried out eight corporate acquisitions in the last six years; the latest – of a Winnipeg company’s financial software division – was completed just this spring.  QHR’s revenues have grown by 50 per cent since 2005, with its last three quarters showing revenue jumps from $1.3 million to $2 million to $3.4 million. The company has also expanded its staff by 50 per cent in the past year in anticipation of more growth. Not bad for a mid-sized software player in Kelowna in the middle of a recession. But as QHR CEO Al Hildebrandt explains, the health-care sector has an economy all its own.

The unique thing about Canadian health care is that most of the software systems out there today have been in place for 15 years, and when health-care organizations go through restructuring or mergers, they have to take a look at their IT infrastructure. So either they’ve already bought a new system in the last 10 years – many of them ours – or when the time comes to change the model, they go to the marketplace and see what is out there. And we are the number one vendor in that space in English Canada. We have clients all across the country from B.C. to Halifax, and we do payroll for about 150,000 employees of client organizations.

Last January we acquired the financial software division of Momentum Healthware Inc., a company out of Winnipeg. We had won several bids co-operating with Momentum, where they were in the bid on the financial side and we were in the bid on the payroll side. They wanted to sell, so, quietly late last fall, they started to look for a buyer. We knew them well and we knew that either we let someone else into our client base or we pick it up. About 30 per cent of our clients were already using their product, so it was a natural fit for us. We got their client list and the product that they had and that then moved us into the financial market as well as payroll.

Ontario has been restructuring its health system into 14 regional networks over the last four years, so there’s been some opportunities there that fit down our product line. And the Momentum products will now lead us to anybody who’s looking for financial systems, who we weren’t talking to before. It’s definitely a place that now is very positive for us. We’re opening a new office in Toronto; we’ve hired about eight employees in Ontario already in the last few months and we’re looking for more.

We’re growing, and a good indicator of that is the amount of staff we’re hiring. Just over this last year, we’ve gone from just under 60 to over 90 now. We’re very confident that we’ve been able to grow and acquire companies and do it profitably. Very few companies have been able to do that.