Christchurch technology company Emendo can tell public hospitals how many patients will come through the doors this weekend.

Emendo uses a range of mathematical algorithms to predict patient numbers days in advance, allowing hospitals to allocate operating theatres, roster staff and use bed space efficiently.

With district health board bosses being asked to trim millions from their budgets, Emendo's software allows hospitals to wring the most out of existing facilities.

Co-founder Nick Burns said software customers comment on the feeling of calmness that being able to anticipate workloads brings to busy hospitals.

Its cornerstone product, CapPlan, has the ability to connect everyone from primary healthcare players through to the big regional hospitals to try to optimise the use of the facilities and resources.

"We are connected up to the core hospital systems," said Burns. "We have algorithms running over all the data looking for patterns, then apply forecasts going forward."

Even the arrival of the winter flu season or a major civil defence emergency can be taken into account.

Emergency departments in New Zealand are now required to have 95 per cent of patients seen within six hours of arriving. Similar targets are in place in Australian hospitals.

Often the waiting time problems in emergency departments originate further downstream, said Burns.

Using the CapPlan software, hospitals can "smooth" bed use variability and reduce emergency department problems.

Originally involved in hospital management, Burns teamed up with Bart Visscher, a technology expert, in 2002 to develop CapPlan.

"In the mid to late 90s I spent time working in a hospital and I was so frustrated about how reactive the environment was," said Burns. "I recognised a real gap and a real need to plan more effectively and help manage a complex environment."

Burns said one of the early barriers to the company's success was proving the technology delivered what it promised.

The company worked with Canterbury District Health Board to develop the software, which is now being used at Waikato, Waitemata and Counties-Manukau district health boards, as well as in hospitals in Australia, Britain and Canada.

Burns admits his decision to chuck in his job to start a technology business wasn't universally popular.

"I was one of those people who came home on Christmas Eve and said to my wife 'I've just resigned'," said Burns. "When I write the book I'm going to say: 'make sure you consult your partner before doing this'."

His wife is still with him and Emendo now has turn-over in seven figures and has been profitable for the past three years.

Revenue growth has averaged 70 per cent a year and Burns is optimistic the company can continue that growth trajectory.

Focused on supplying public hospitals, Burns said an interesting development for the company has been government moves in New Zealand and around the world to deliver greater efficiency through the regionalisation and nationalisation of hospitals.

Emendo has already sold the software for regional roll-outs in Australia, which from a business point of view means bigger, multiple hospital deals, said Burns.

The recession has meant the hunt for efficiency, particularly in the high-cost area of healthcare, has played to Emendo's sweet spot.

But Burns said the flipside is that the return of investment case needs to be solid, which he is confident his product delivers.

"That's something that our target market, which is public hospitals, demand is strong evidence of return on investment. I've noted that in the recession that's a lot more prevalent than some of the softer benefits of what our solutions would offer," said Burns.