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Gerrit J. Van Zyl[edit]

Gerrit (Gerrie) J. Van Zyl is an award-winning technology entrepreneur and CEO of tradebridge, a company with offices in Atlanta, in the United States, and Johannesburg, South Africa. [Gerrit van Zyl 1] At the age of 15, Van Zyl wrote a software backup program for Sinclair Computers that was marketed in the United Kingdom. Van Zyl, who was born in South Africa, completed his post-graduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology after graduating cum laude from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa with a BSc. Mechanical Engineering. He is the founder of information technology companies involved in health care management, credit and debit card swipe machines, the management of debt for corporations and financially stressed consumers, as well as high-level management consulting.

Technology developed by Van Zyl and his teams have seen a reduction in wait-times for doctors to be paid and in medical administration costs. When his first company, healthbridge, established it's medical billing switches in 1999 in South Africa, as an example, it took an average of 69 days for doctors to be paid, by 2010 it was down to 11 days or less. And administrative costs for medical insurers declined from 17 percent of their costs to 10 percent. [1]

Van Zyl was a founding director of HL7 in South Africa. HL7 has become the International standards body for health care information exchange. It has been accredited as the ANSI body in the U.S.


Van Zyl founded his first company, healthbridge in 1999 to create a clinical and financial switching platform in the South African healthcare industry. Van Zyl initiated a joint venture between medical insurance industry leaders Discovery Health and Medscheme and, information technology corporation, Dimension Data, that created the foundation for healthbridge. [2]

  1. ^ Van Zyl, Gerrit (18 February 2010). "The Switch in the Middle". Finance Week. Retrieved 9 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Africa, All. "Stories". All Africa 

Early directors and chairmen of healthbridge were drawn from Dimension Data and Discovery including, Adrian Gore and David Frankel. In 2004, he successfully brought a Competition Tribunal action against uncompetitive practices in the medical insurance industry.[Gerrie van Zyl 1]

The motivating mission behind this company was influenced by the teachings of Columbia University Professor Jeffery Sachs: “To transform economies and industries and enhance the lives of people by democratizing information. Particularly in the complicated and inefficient health care industry.” This would later become 
the guiding principle behind the umbrella company, tradebridge.
 Within seven years healthbridge was an [[1] industry leader] employing more than 130 people and worth R120 million. 

In 2007, the healthbridge board approved a strategy that would expand the business and so 
tradebridge was formed.

Medical costs inflation began skyrocketing from the 1990s, Van Zyl told the National Healthcare Structure Symposium in Midrand [healthbridge 1] . He said the two main drivers of medical costs were administration and clinical costs. Van Zyl claimed that electronic switches between medical providers helped cut costs by using real-time information to process claims, validate a member's benefits and submit electronic remittance advice.


tradebridge [Businessweek 1] is a value-added financial switching platform operator. [Tradebridge 1] It is the umbrella company for healthbridge, SureSwipe (founded 2006, a credit card swipe machine distributor), Debt Control Management (Pty) Ltd. (acquired in 2008 that assists financially stressed consumers and corporations). tradebridge focusses on opportunities where there are complex transactions between buyers and sellers that require more than standard debit and credit payment instructions. tradebridge operates in:
 1) healthcare information switching (claims and clinical) 
2) debt control management 
3) retail POS and loyalty card switching

tradebridge revenues grew organically by CAGR 30% between 2008 and 2012 to R340m.

Professional experience

1994-1998: The Monitor Company, Cambridge, MA and Johannesburg, South Africa. As a member of the five-person Johannesburg Office leadership team, Van Zyl had significant responsibility for strategy and day-to-day management of the office as well as new business development.

1996: He was one of four consultants selected to advise South Africa's Deputy President Thabo Mbeki - deputy to President Nelson Mandela - on issues relating to telecommunications liberalization.

1991-1992: Intelligent Automation Systems, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Van Zyl worked as a design engineer designing and supervising the construction of high-tech computer controlled automation equipment for the pharmaceutical and electronics fabrication industries.

1988-1989: Bureau for Mechanical Engineering, Stellenbosch, South Africa. Research Engineer, Mechanics Division, facilitating technology transfer between military research institutions and private organizations by assisting with the development of new technologies for civilian applications.


MIT SLOAN SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT, Cambridge, Massachusetts Masters Degree in Management, June 1994 • Concentrations in Technology Management, Strategy and International Management. • Founder and Chairman of the Sloan Golf Club, Member of the MIT Entrepreneurship Club.

MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, Cambridge, Massachusetts • Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering - Emphasis in Systems Dynamics and Control. • Designed, built and programmed a robot that could juggle by learning from its successes and mistakes. (This project was a component of a large defense funded research program into artificial intelligence robotics.) • Led the Helicopter Controls Initiative in the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, a 12 person multi-disciplinary group of students and research staff that made significant advances in computer controlled helicopter flight.

UNIVERSITY OF STELLENBOSCH, Stellenbosch, South Africa Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Cum Laude, November 1988 • Elected to the university’s Council for Leadership Development, 1987-1988. • Elected vice-president of a student political organization supporting a non-racial, democratic and free market political-economic solution for South Africa, 1986-1988.

Awards and Nominations

  • 2010: tradebridge was

 one of five finalists in the 2010 [[2]TopCo African Access South African Entrepreneur of the Year Award].
  • 2010: Van Zyl was one of three finalists in the Top Entrepreneur category at the South African National Business Awards. [3]
  • 2001: Most Promising Business-to-Business e-Commerce Company (healthbridge) in South Africa (South African e-Commerce Survey – Financial Mail and Bain & Co, 2001).
  • 2001- 2003: The Switch Most Highly Rated by Clients (TWIG Annual Healthcare Survey, 2001-2003).
  • 2001: healthbridge won Best Below-the-Line Marketing Campaign in South Africa (Moerdyk Annual Marketing Awards, 2001).
  • 2002 to 2003: healthbridge voted Top Rated Healthcare Transaction Switch (The Independent Report).
  • 2003 to 2005: healthbridge voted one of the Top 40 ICT Companies in SA by leading financial editors (2003-2005).
  • 2005, 2006 & 2007: healthbridge won South African Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) innovation awards for three consecutive years for its Hospital Authorization and Claims product and its mypractice practitioner portal.


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  1. ^ South Africa Competition Tribunal actions 2004 "Actions 2004", South Africa Competition Tribunal, Pretoria, 2004. Retrieved on 26 September, 2013.
  2. ^ "Who's Who" group="Gerrit van Zyl">of South Africa, Who's Who. "Gerrit J. Van Zyl".  Who's Who: South Africa, Media24, Cape Town. Retrieved on 25 September, 2013.