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Supporting Croatia’s only private female clinic

By Katarzyna Kukula

The Maternity & Gynaecology Outpatient Clinic Podobnik in Zagreb was founded out of both a love for healing patients and the drive to make quality, private healthcare accessible to all. The hospital is the brainchild of Doctors Slava and Mario Podobnik, who first became excited about the possibility of owning a hospital back in the early 2000s, having practiced medicine for over 30 years.

Doctors make excellent hospital managers

Dr Mario Podobnik is a gynaecology and obstetrics specialist, and one of the first sub-specialists in fetal medicine in Croatia specializing in ultrasound and prenatal diagnostics.

Aside from being a renowned neurologist, Dr Slava Podobnik developed impressive business acumen while managing a specialist health clinic in the past.

The practitioner duo had their patients’ health at heart when, in 2008, they decided to open the country’s first private hospital for women:

“After working several years in a private clinic, we were driven to give women of all age groups in Croatia a different and high level of medical and hospital care.”

A story of perseverance

But changes don’t happen overnight, and for the Podobnik doctors, it was not the smoothest of journeys at first.

They vividly remember the difficulties they initially had, confronted with the strict regulatory system, which dictated the size of any newly constructed building. “We had to build three separate entities and find a creative way of connecting them into one clinic,” Dr Slava Podobnik recalls.

Today, the clinic is equipped with state-of-the-art ultrasonic machines. The operating theatre has been fitted with the latest apparatus, the delivery rooms have functional birthing beds and water birth pools, and the intensive care nursery has modern incubators.

A total of 60 full-time medical staff, including specialist doctors, midwives and administrative professionals go to admirable lengths all year round to improve patients’ health. These days women from all over Europe visit the hospital, which is a tribute to its excellent services and facilities.

“Every team member has their part in this, and as the level of service we provide depends on the entire team, we are constantly training our physicians, midwives and nurses.”

However, the country’s healthcare system has recently been experiencing shortages of medical staff in light of the high emigration triggered by better working conditions abroad.  To help offset this negative trend, the owners of the clinic decided to offer a special benefits package to their employees.

At the same time, they faced technological challenges related to the growing patient database. A more robust medical records system, an efficient scheduling procedure and resource planning were all needed to ensure smooth running of the hospital.

This is why the EBRD supported the Podobnik doctors by engaging expert consultancy firm Laus CC of Croatia, which helped develop and implement a new medical information system to support the hospital’s operational needs. The project, funded by the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Advisory Hub, has already resulted in better reporting and cost-efficiency as well as improved quality of services - all to the benefit of the clinic’s patients.

“Our patients have been, and have remained, our best teachers. We see them as partners in our work.” A very healthy incentive indeed!

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