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Abu Dhabi 2016 | HEALTH | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dr. Tomislav Mihaljevic, CEO of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, on catering to local needs and the importance of boosting capacity.

Dr. Tomislav Mihaljevic
BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Tomislav Mihaljevic serves as CEO of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, a world-class multi-specialty hospital specifically designed to address a range of Abu Dhabi’s most complex medical requirements. In his role as CEO, Mihaljevic is responsible for overseeing Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s overall strategy and effective operation as the first-ever US multi-specialty hospital to be replicated outside of North America, including directly managing the hospital’s patient experience and strategy and business development programs. A native of Croatia, Dr. Mihaljevic received his medical degree from the University of Zagreb and started his education in cardiac surgery at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. In 1995, he joined the Brigham and Women's Hospital at Harvard Medical School, where he completed his residency in general and cardiac surgery and served as Chief Resident in the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery at Children's Hospital in Boston.

Since opening, how have appointments and procedures been spread across the respective departments and services?

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is a multi-specialty hospital serving primarily adult patients. We offer services in more than 30 different specializations across 12 institutes, including five centers of excellence in heart and vascular, neurological, eye, and digestive disease, and respiratory and critical care. We also have institutes for medical sub-specialties and for surgical sub-specialties, both of which offer a complete suite of services in traditional internal medicine, such as head and neck surgery and urology. We do not treat children with the exception of the Eye Institute, because there is such a need locally for pediatric ophthalmology.

How does the hospital balance resources between medical tourism and domestic healthcare, undertaken as part of the national infrastructure?

First and foremost, it is important to emphasize that Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is here to serve the local community—Emirati and expat patients who reside in Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE. This is our primary goal: to provide high-quality treatment that keeps Emirati patients and other residents in Abu Dhabi, thereby reducing the need to travel abroad for care. This obviously keeps them closer to their families and loved ones as well. This is the most important part of our mission. The second part of our mission is to ensure Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi makes a lasting change by contributing to the sustainable growth of Abu Dhabi's healthcare sector. An integral part of this effort is the development of Emirati leaders in healthcare and we are meeting this objective by supporting knowledge and skills transfer, particularly through research and innovation.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is a Mubadala company investment that brings American healthcare expertise across to Abu Dhabi. How does this provide stability and financial resources?

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is primarily here to complement the existing offerings in the Abu Dhabi market by bringing the first true replication of the US healthcare model outside of North America, when it comes to highly specialized, complex care. In so doing, we are filling a need for acute and critical care within the healthcare sector. We are fortunate to have Mubadala as our partner in this endeavor. Our collaboration has been exceptionally strong and continues to be so. Without this joint effort, and the collaboration with regulators and the broader healthcare community, it would not have been possible to build this completely new, 4.4 million sqft campus. Furthermore, as part of the Mubadala network, we are able to collaborate with experts across different specialties and work together for the wider development of the healthcare sector. What makes us unique is how our singular focus on patients' needs drives our delivery model.

What expansion and further development plans do you have in Abu Dhabi?

Rising population and changing demographics are features of every society and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi's long-term strategy in the UAE could potentially provide for additional services as needs arise in the future. Currently, we are focused on delivering services offered in our 12 institutes and fulfilling our mission of helping reduce the need for patients to travel abroad for complex, critical care. In addition, we look forward to accepting more and more patients and we recently signed three new agreements with insurance providers. This is in addition to accepting patients with Thiqa and select Daman Enhanced insurance plans as well as those who wish to self-pay. We also plan to add two more important features to our medical campus, namely training and education, and research and innovation. Our current focus is to ramp up to our full capacity and better serve patients in the UAE with our complete suite of services, many of which were not previously available here. Then, we will see what the future brings. We have a bright future ahead of us.