In a bid to service a growing customer base and facilitate aggressive expansion plans for Africa, medical and health insurer Prosperity Health has teamed with Faritec in a massive IBM-based technology upgrade project. 

Formed in 1994 in Namibia, Prosperity is now based in South Africa, where it insures the lives of 350 000 members across southern and East Africa. These members interface with the company using a Web-based portal, ensuring access from anywhere with a suitable Internet connection.
Prosperity’s decision to evaluate its existing technology infrastructure was driven by plans to expand into two new countries each year as well as the need to efficiently manage premiums which currently amount to R3-billion per annum.
The company was also looking to streamline transaction and payment processing, ensure the integrity and security of customer data, and ensure simple and easy access to the portal – particularly in light of the bandwidth restrictions in many countries on the continent.
In addition, Prosperity needed to support staff and offices around the continent which are connected to the central servers via VSAT (very small aperture terminal) satellite links. Internet Solutions maintains these connections, both in South Africa and outside the country’s borders.
Bertus Struwig, CEO of Prosperity Health, says: “We employ more than 500 people in 10 different countries and therefore process claims using 10 different currencies. Add to that the thousands of tariff codes in South Africa and all the various forms of tariffs in sub-Saharan Africa, and we have a complex business.”
He believes Prosperity’s IT infrastructure is the key enabler of its strategic advantage in Africa.
“Our portal and VSAT set-up means that we can create a point of presence anywhere in Africa. We process transactions extremely quickly. And we can talk to our primary audiences – the medical practitioners and the patients – about their needs in a way that makes sense to them.”
To keep this momentum up and create a platform for future growth, Prosperity chose to move to an infrastructure of IBM OpenPower servers and a IBM blade platform running the Red Hat distribution of Linux. The database and business systems running on top of this open source infrastructure are based on Sybase.
Allan Timm, sales director at Faritec, says Faritec partnered with Internet Solutions and Sybase to replace Prosperity’s existing infrastructure with newer, more scalable technology.
“Together, we were able to identify and address challenges as they arose, which contributed to a highly successful implementation,” Timm says.
Faritec was responsible for the hardware infrastructure, which included the IBM OpenPower servers, IBM Blade platform and Prosperity’s new IBM storage area network (SAN).
Commenting on the benefits of the upgrade, Struwig says all the company’s sites link directly into its servers in Johannesburg, enabling transactions to be processed in real time. Client data is secure and protected thanks to the on and offsite disaster recovery solution which has been implemented.
“The main benefit, though, is that we can provide our key customer audiences with what they want – fast, efficient service, claims paid promptly, accurately and without fuss, and a provider whose systems are accessible around the clock from anywhere,” Struwig says.
“If we are to continue our expansion into Africa – and later into the Middle East and even Eastern Europe through the replication of our IT systems – then we need to be completely sure of our technology. With this system, we are.”