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Association of Croatian American Professionals advance work to spur medical tourism opportunities in Croatia

Croatia – a healthcare destination (Photo: Oliver Ash/Unsplash)

Embassy of the Republic of Croatia, Croatian Ministry of Health, and a group of 40 professionalsfrom the U.S. and Croatia defined next business steps to make Croatia a destination for healthcare

CLEVELAND, April 5, 2019 – The Association of Croatian American Professionals (ACAP), hosted medical professionals from the United States and Croatia at a business meeting to advance the agenda of the ACAP Medical Task Force at a gathering on Saturday, March 30, 2019.

This event marks the third in-person meeting for the ACAP Medical Tourism Task Force. The initiative was launched in 2016 to identify opportunities for businesses and professionals to create relationships and open  dialogue with organizations and entities in Croatia involved in the growing healthcare sector of medical tourism. 

“It’s amazing to see the talent and excellence of the diaspora and Croatia come together with a goal to positively impact Croatian healthcare. That exemplifies not only their dedication to, but love for, their homeland,” says Pjer Šimunović, Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to the United States. 

Ambassador Šimunović was accompanied by Mirna Vlašić Feketija, Minister Counselor, and Nikica Kopačević, Counselor, also members of Croatia’s diplomatic mission to the U.S.

Ambassador Pjer Simunovic

“Our task force allows our members to bring forth their creative vision and expertise to help Croatian businesses in the health sector understand how we, as Croatian-American professionals, can help leverage and make the region more attractive for patients and travelers looking for quality medical tourism experiences,” says Steven Pavletić, MD, ACAP vice president and chair of ACAP Medical Task Force. Dr. Pavletić serves as a senior clinician at the Center for Cancer Research for the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.

The outcome of this meeting was creation of a formal process to implement four key initiatives including:

  • Croatia Connected Health Hub: a centralized medical health tourism agency for patients 
  • Croatia Cancer Center: high-quality comprehensive cancer center in Croatia
  • Integrated Medical and Wellness Program: new partnerships at destinations in Croatia   
  • Education: program that enables Croatian medical and other health care students to spend clinical preceptorship time at hospitals in the U.S.  

“The collective enthusiasm and brainpower of Croatian professionals, coupled with a laser focus on creating a pragmatic solution, resulted in an innovative educational, marketing and logistics plan to boost Croatia to the forefront of the cross-border health movement,” says Mirena Bagur, MBA, president, CONTeXO Group, a consultancy for health tech entrepreneurs. 

Kate Suryan, JosieTomljenovic and Steven Pavletic, Ognjen Bagatin with Ambassador Pjer Simunovic

Forty professional leaders participated in the discussions including: Ognjen Bagatin, MBA, CEO, Bagatin Clinic, Croatia; Anto Bagic, MD, UPMC Pittsburgh; Marijo Bilusic, MD, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland; Miljenko Bura, MD, Medical Group, Zagreb; Mate Car, PhD, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health, Croatia; Mladen Golubić, MD, Cleveland Clinic; Kerry Laufer, director, onsite global consulting, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College; Biljana Lovrinovic, CEO, Equus Group/Galop Digital; Mario Skugor, MD, Cleveland Clinic; Drew Stoken, MD, Harrisburg, PA; and Josie Tomljenovic, RN, Cleveland Clinic.

The Medical Tourism Task Force meeting was held at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Eastlake, Ohio. 

The Association of Croatian American Professionals is a non-profit organization bringing together professionals, business leaders, academics, students and community organizers. Its  mission is to foster leadership, collaboration and to promote the advancement of issues relevant to the Croatian-American community. ACAP currently has 11 chapters in the United States and Croatia with 750 members — and is growing — worldwide.

Medical tourism task force members

For more information, please visit croampro.com; follow us on Twitter (@CroAmPro) and Facebook.

ACAP is  hosting its fourth national conference in Cleveland, Ohio from Sept. 19 through 22, 2019. The conference aims to bring together more than 500 professionals from all facets of the U.S. and international professional community, including a delegation from Croatia’s Chamber of Commerce.   

Additional Quotes 

“By assembling a diverse group of Croatian professionals from the U.S. and Croatia, we started to develop a Croatia Connected Health Hub as a one-stop-shop healthcare platform that will position Croatia as a synonym for health in Europe and the world. When enthusiasm, knowledge, experience and love for Croatia are placed on one team, everything is possible. This was one of the best ACAP meetings yet, thank you for this experience.”

Ognjen Bagatin, CEO, Bagatin Clinic (Split and Zagreb, Croatia) 

“Planning and implementation of the second phase of the integrated medical wellness program highlighted the meeting. The task force focused on identifying potential partnerships in the U.S. and Croatia, legal and business needs, and implementation of pilot programs by 2020.” 

Jeana Havidich, MD, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (Lebanon, New Hampshire)

“The confluence of broad vision, strategic planning, and tactical execution emanating from the conference served to demonstrate the critical importance of having diversity of thought at the table. Perspectives from clinicians, marketers, risk managers, IT experts, bankers and finance professionals — representing large and small companies, for-profit and non-profit organizations, from Croatia and the US -is crucial to fostering and accelerating success in cross-border investments.” 

Paula Poskon, President, STOV Advisory Services (Reston, VA)

“The Croatia Connected Health Hub working group has certainly been adopted and well received within the ACAP medical tourism task force. We find it extremely important to have one central place for information in which international patients can have easy access and make it a one-stop-shop for the best Croatian healthcare practices. A large part of this will be telemedicine which involves clinical, technology and process improvement experts who we are fortunate to have as ACAP members.” 

Biljana Lovrinovic, CEO, Equus Group (Cleveland, Ohio)/Galop Digital (Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina), President, ACAP—Cleveland

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