HEALTHCARE software company Craneware is working to find more uses for its technology within the NHS, following a record year of sales driven by demand from hospitals in the United States.

The Edinburgh-based company agreed last month to pay up to £1.25 million for app developer Kestros, whose products are already used for tasks like scheduling appointments and managing repeat prescriptions in some NHS trusts including in Ayrshire & Arran.

"We were introduced to them towards the start of the year. We had been looking at their technology and we were trying to help them develop their own marketplace," said chief executive Keith Neilson.

"In the course of that we started to wonder whether the quality of the technology could apply to the US market. The Kestros products and some of our own products could work in the NHS."

Mr Neilson stressed that the NHS would be more likely to use his firm's tools to better organise appointments and orders, rather than buying the patient billing and revenue management software that make up its core US sales.

"The US health market is the biggest vertical for software and will continue to be so," he said.

Craneware's revenues for the year to June 30 rose 2.7 per cent to $42.6m (£26.3m), while pre-tax profits increased 6.6 per cent to $11.3m.

The company signed new contracts worth a record $71m during the year, having agreed new work worth $38.5m in the previous year.

A number of large US hospital networks agreed to buy Craneware software during the year, lifting its future revenues.

"Investments in the business mean we have the people and the expertise in place to take us through the next stage of growth, building on our record sales performance," said Mr Neilson.

"We have had a strong start to the current year, carrying on the momentum from the previous year and are confident we have the platform to deliver ongoing increased stakeholder value."

Almost 90 per cent of Craneware's revenues come from licensing its software, with the rest coming from other services such as installation.

The software is used in one in four hospitals in the United States for managing patient bills and keeping track of pharmacy supplies.

Craneware said its customers were signing up for longer contracts, some as long as nine years compared to its historical average of five years, in a sign of growing confidence among healthcare providers.

The Affordable Care Act, which was introduced in 2010 as part of US President Barack Obama's healthcare reforms, has enabled more Americans to access health insurance and has moved more of the billing burden on to hospitals.

Craneware said its services were fitting in well with the changes in the industry. The company employs more than 200 people at offices in Edinburgh and in four states in the US.

On this week's referendum, Mr Neilson said the company had not taken a stance. "What we want to do is get through September 18 as quickly as possible and get on with growing the business, whether it's part of the UK or not."

Craneware's directors have proposed a final dividend of 6.8p per share, taking its total for the year to 12.5p, compared to 11.5p in the prior year.

Shares in the firm, which are listed on the Alternative Investment Market, closed up 0.5 per cent at 520p yesterday, valuing the company at about £140m.

Analysts at Investec said the results were broadly in line with forecasts. "Overall, the results are supportive of an underlying recovery underway, but taking time to feed through to the annuity revenue model," said analyst Roger Phillips in a research note yesterday.