Close this search box.
BUI and Microsoft help MediCharge to improve efficiency and reduce hosting costs
Moving an unwieldy portion of their database to the Azure cloud resulted in several wins for the specialist medical practice management system. And they’re not stopping there.


BUI and Microsoft help MediCharge to improve efficiency and reduce hosting costs


South Africa
51 - 200 Employees



What We Did

Moving an unwieldy portion of their database to the Azure cloud
What MediCharge does

In 2007 MediCharge began developing the first South African web-based healthcare billing system, VeriClaim, specifically to handle the complexities of specialist billing. Since going to market in 2009, MediCharge has prided itself on helping specialist doctors to declutter their billing and build accurate invoices that get paid by medical aids at the first time of asking. While GPs can make use of the service, their powerful software comes into its own with specialist doctors for whom invoicing is a subtle and complex art. They serve around 1500 medical specialists (about a third of the market) in South Africa across 180 specialisations.
BUI enters the fray

In the early days MediCharge did all of its own hosting. In 2017, as their database grew, they decided to outsource their hosting … But they soon encountered what Brian Bear, who heads up the development team at MediCharge describes as a “knowledge gap” with the host. “We’d heard really good things about BUI so we brought them in to help whenever we hit an obstacle and to act as a go-between with Microsoft,” explains Bear. “We don’t call on them often but it’s great to know they’re there when we need them.”
Taking the relationship to the next level

MediCharge has one of the largest databases of private medical information in South Africa. It goes without saying that security is of utmost importance to them. They also do a lot to ensure high availability and redundancy on their system. As Bear puts it, “the last thing we need is a surgeon who’s about to perform an operation being unable to open the notes he made on his iPad last night.”

To this end they keep four different copies of all of their clients’ data, with the result that “for every 1TB of data I need to buy 4TB of additional hard-drives,” explains Bear who likens it to “walking around with four cellphones in your pocket to ensure you’re always contactable.” This isn’t just expensive, it can also be a hassle – albeit a vital one.

In late 2021, MediCharge made the decision to move all of their BLOB (Binary Large Object) data to the Azure cloud. Unlike a neat and orderly Excel spreadsheet, BLOB data is always cumbersome (in the MediCharge context it’s mainly photos of pathology results) to manage and store. “We had a situation where half of our database was stuff that would only ever be looked at once in its lifetime,” explains Bear. “We had to keep it. But we didn’t have to keep it on physical servers.”

When it came to moving their BLOB data to the cloud, BUI was the obvious choice. First, BUI set up an AZURE environment where this BLOB data could be hosted. They then established secure IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) tunnels between Azure and MediCharge’s hosting sites to ensure the safe and private exchange of data. By mid-2023, the majority of MediCharge’s crucial BLOB data, (i.e. that which was deemed feasible for migration and anticipated to be infrequently accessed) had been successfully transitioned to Azure.

“Before the move half of our time and effort was spent managing data we never used,” enthuses Bear. “Now it’s on Microsoft, we don’t have to worry about it.” Embracing the cloud has also made backups easier, he adds: “We back up our own systems every 15 minutes, but backing up BLOB data this often is a waste of time and effort.” In addition to these overarching benefits, the move has also resulted in other wins, says Bear:
  • MediCharge’s physical database is no longer growing exponentially. Much of the growth is happening in the cloud and is far cheaper to manage.
  • Moving to Azure has improved MediCharge’s security. They already had very high levels of security, but Microsoft is a world leader.
  • Microsoft has helped MediCharge to make their system even more available.
Embracing the cloud even more fully

Based on the success of the BLOB data project, in February 2023, MediCharge asked BUI to build a “hot disaster recovery (DR) site” for their entire database. With 14TB of data, a web server, an application server, and a firewall this wasn’t a matter of simply copying and pasting it into the cloud. Instead, says Bear, “BUI brought the right subject matter expert on board and came up with the best solution for us to replicate our hosting in the cloud.”

While the project is still ongoing (it should be completed by October 2023), when complete the hot DR site will boast its own independent firewall and IPSec tunnel that’s completely separate from the server where the BLOB data is housed. While Bear is not ready to put all MediCharge’s eggs in the cloud basket, he is very excited at the prospect of taking out “an extra insurance policy on his database.” The hot DR site will increase MediCharge’s security, availability and redundancy.

What’s more, the process – which required rewriting plenty of code to make it appropriate for Azure – has given Bear and the team the opportunity to “play” with the possibilities of cloud hosting: “It’s like a sandpit for us to experiment with the cloud,” he says.
Onwards and upwards

While Bear isn’t sure how putting an “extra cellphone” in the cloud will change the way MediCharge does business, he expects Microsoft, Azure and BUI to play an increasingly important role in the company’s future. “BUI has proven to be an invaluable partner throughout our collaboration. They've provided expert advice and served as a reliable resource for third-tier MS SQL escalations when needed. BUI played a pivotal role in facilitating the seamless migration of BLOB data to the cloud and is actively contributing to the construction of a robust hot DR site in the cloud environment. Chevonne and the sales team consistently demonstrate prompt responsiveness, while their engineers exhibit technical prowess and true expertise in their respective fields.”

This sentiment is wholeheartedly echoed by BUI manager Chevonne Abrahams. “Protecting sensitive information is a critical responsibility that requires diligence and commitment to maintaining the highest standards. I want to thank Brian Bear at MediCharge for trusting BUI to deliver on their requirements. We remain committed to upholding the highest standards of security and we look forward to providing our security and cloud expertise and support on any future projects.”

share this customer story