A Coventry firm founded by four students has quadrupled its turnover in a year and been nominated for a national health service award.

Prescription software firm ScriptSwitch - which estimates it has saved the NHS £3 million - is on target to rack up sales of £1.9 million this year, up from £450,000 in 2005/006.

It has also become the first private business to be nominated in the Information Based Decision Making category of the Health Service Journal awards.

Managing director Mike Washburn said: "We are absolutely delighted to have been nominated for the award, particularly as the first ever private company to be short-listed in this category.

"It is quite motivating to see that, as a small company in the health care environment, we are being recognised for what we do.

"With the national IT programme under considerable pressure to deliver, ScriptS-witch provides a real local technology win for the NHS by helping to improve care whilst at the same time saving money which can then be re-invested in improving other services."

ScriptSwitch was founded in 2002 by four University of Warwick students - Anton Sutton, Matthew Berryman, Duncan Greenshields and Andrew Bodsworth.

Working with local pharmacist Kelvin Ackford, the team designed and patented a system to help medical staff prescribe drugs.

The software provides a number of details of prescription drugs, including their dosage and cost.

All of the founders still work in the firm and Mr Washburn, a local entrepreneur who owns a number of businesses, took over as managing director in 2003 to help secure finance with Midven and HSBC.

Based in the University of Warwick Science Park, the business now supplies its software to 62 Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and is in talks with another 58.

ScriptSwitch - which charges PCTs 37 pence per patient for the system - claims it can save an average of £35,000 a year for every UK medical practice.

This is a total saving of more than £300 million if all PCTs bought the firm's product.

"My experience of getting involved with businesses is that its very rare to get so many referrals without aggressive marketing and follow-up sales, so I'm biting my lip at the moment," Mr Washburn said.

"The response so far has been great. We thought that the reform of the PCTs at the end of September would temporarily dampen interest in the product, but it hasn't been the case.

"We've come through some very hard times and it's great that things are now starting to happen.

"At the moment the big challenge is to make sure we can match growth in infrastructure of the business with growth of demand for the product. I'm keen to make sure we can continue to recruit good people to support the business," he added.

"Obviously it would be nice to at least double our turnover next year, but we are not aggressively financially targeted."

The awards ceremony will take place at the Grosvenor House hotel in London on November 30.