Dr. Iva Fattorini: Founder, Artocene

My NativeAdVice:


Iva Fattorini, MD, MSc, Founder of Artocene. Dr Iva Fattorini is one of the pioneers and global leaders of the contemporary arts and medicine movement. Iva attended Classical Gymnasium in Zagreb and became a medical doctor at 23 after graduating from the University of Zagreb Medical School where she also completed a postgraduate study in Biology and Biomedicine and got her Master of Science Degree. She completed her Dermatology Residency in Zagreb, then undertook an International Training program at Harvard University in Boston, USA. In 2004, she moved to the U.S. and joined Cleveland Clinic. With strong motive to help international patients with limited access to good healthcare, she became Director of International E-health. During her tenure at the Cleveland Clinic, she amongst other things chaired the Aesthetics Committee in USA and Sana’a Committee in Abu Dhabi, won Cleveland Clinic’s Innovator’s award and was on a steering committee of Empathy and Innovation/Patient experience summit.

Spending time with many out of town patients and their families she noticed the need to address their emotional needs and help fill the voids of a stressful time with positive and enriching content. As a result, Iva founded the Arts and Medicine Institute at Cleveland Clinic in 2008. Under her leadership, first as Executive Director and then as a Chair, the Institute has grown and has become an integral part of the culture of one of the best and largest hospitals in the U.S. The Institute has set up a new paradigm and standards in the area of arts and medicine. In 2011 Iva moved to Abu Dhabi, to work with the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi team on expanding an arts and health concept to the new hospital facility. Dr Fattorini is speaking and presenting to both arts and healthcare audience such as: Aspen Ideas Festival, Kennedy Center for the Arts, Istanbul Art Fair, Abu Dhabi Art, Kochi Muziris Biennale, Ernakulam General Hospital (India), Salzburg Music Festival, Arts Policy 2 Roundtable by Americans for the Arts in Sundance, National Endowment for the Arts, Said Business school Oxford University, KOS musem Denmark and many others.

In 2016, Iva was invited by Deepak Chopra to moderate the arts panel at the Sages & Scientists Symposium in Los Angeles. She is a member of the first Arts and Medicine committee at the World Congress of Integrative Medicine, the founding member of Lincoln Center Global Exchange and ambassador for The Red Pencil Humanitarian Mission, based in Singapore and Geneva. in 2017, she was invited to join the National Organization for Arts in Health (NOAH) as a founding Ambassador.

How did you get into the industry?

While working in a large hospital system, , it came to my attention that very often patients,friends and family members of patients had little to nothing to occupy themselves during their “waiting times” in hospitals. “Waiting times” can take up to 80% of time spent in hospitals for both patients and visitors This time is then usually filled with anxiety, stress, negativity and it has significant impact on the overall healthcare experience, whether we are looking at them as HCAPS scores (in USA), clinical outcomes or other key elements of the quality of care. I spoke to families, patients, conducted surveys and discovered  that they would all love their “captured” time in the hospital to be enriched with something meaningful. In 2013, during a visit to Venice Biennale, it became clear why I had started my mission to research arts and medicine and the effects and influences It had. In his smart artistic and insightful simplicity, Ron Arad said at his exhibition “The last train”:

“I felt like I was compensated for missing my train by witnessing some beauty that no one else had seen before….”

Well, we are all rushing through life, taking things for granted or not even seeing them. When we get stuck in time, or something stops us, like a serious illness, we reset our values and start to notice things we have not had time to notice before.. And in those moments, our existence which is purified by peeling off the layers of superficiality, can be tuned to the beauty that we have never experienced before. With the professionaly guided integration of arts with medicine and programs, we are given the opportunity to infuse the places where people are fragile and with cracks, with the beauty and the light. It then goes through the cracks and reaches the depth of our hearts and our minds. And eventually can make us better humans. For a dying patient it could be a last memory they will take with them on their journey, or for those who will get back to their chaotic daily routines -the life changing experience.

Arts and Medicine for me is closing the full circle of the core of the human existence.

I believe that industry is yet to be created and I am hoping to contribute to it as much as possible.

Any emerging industry trends?

The  hard data driven and evidence-based contemporary healthcare systems, are almost completely detached from addressing the emotional side of humans.They are ususally  deprived or investing funds in any endeavor or activity which doesn’t have direct ROI or is not reflecting positive in budget sheets.  What are the mathematics of human emotions and at which point testimonials become evidence?  

Every healthcare system and hospital in the 21st century should aim to address physical appearance, emotional experience and clinical outcomes. I believe merging all forms of arts with medicine fits it all.

Focus is now officially on patient-centered care; however, I would say it should be rephrased as “human-centered” care.

This includes not only patient experience, but also the emotional and human aspect and needs of all the caregivers: doctors, nurses, administrative staff, families etc.

The location for providing care will also change and move from the large hospital systems and buidlings to private homes, work environments or virtual digital spaces in the near future.

Emotions and empathy are the currency of the 21st century.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Some studies show that the time hospital staff spend in direct contact with patients is around 16% of their overall work time The rest of their time is spent completing administrative or operational tasks. We are facing a huge and increasing void in the care.

With the growing  number of patients, including aging demographics, it will be very hard to fill that void. We need to start looking into new, innovative and probably very different approaches, such as integration of arts and medicine.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

I truly believe that that the concept of arts and medicine belongs to everyone and it can exist everywhere. I know that, if applied appropriately, Arts is  not a luxury but a humble necessity. What this concept can achieve is beyond anything I can describe in words. I’ve  witnessed the power of it and not only  has it changed the lives of many,  it has also changed my life profoundly. In order to expand what I was doing for one system to many systems around the world, create global awareness and then movement, I started my own company Artocene. Artocene offers consulting but is also in the process of developing a new digital platform which will allow this concept to reach a global audience, anytime, anywhere.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

Mobilizing new resources, leveraging existing ones and create more intersections in industries which were not intersecting historically.  All that connected to digital era and cyber new world.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

I am the founder and owner of Artocene, a start-up business in a “start-up” industry which has not really been approached before as a “business”. The key initiatives will be: a) to develop new arts and medicine metrics to be able to comply with rigid regulations in caring for health and b) to create global awareness and activate latent therapeutic power of underused and underestimated forms of arts, desire to help, give and connect, to mobilize resources and sync it with the power of connecting people through technology of today.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

If the business is guided by the vision mainly, and is not the mainstream or trendy, then it is most likely that not many people will either understand it or be interested in it at all. It is  realizing that the business you are developing is an “outlier”. But if the vision is supported by passion, passion with persistence, persistence with hard work, hard work with great cause, then the universe will provide. Business plans, numbers and the rest will fall into place.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

Discovering the new completely hidden levels of themselves, using the new tools, meeting new people and becoming part of something much larger than they ever expected to be involved in.

How do you motivate others?

I think I talk too much. So my preference is to just do the work. And it will show itself.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Never give up.

My NativeAdVantage:

What do I do best?

Keep believing that there is light in every being and goodness in every moment. If I believe it, I see it. If I see it, it becomes infinite. And if it is tuned in with the universe, it gets fueled by the incredible energy.  This allows me to have no fear but to remain respectful. The result is to be able to see with the heart and soul. And then I keep going in that direction, regardless of what others think or say. I will still do it my way.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Keep going. Feel grateful for what I have. Definitely see and approach every challenge or  failure as an opportunity. Reset values frequently. And do my regular reality checks. Like being incredibly lucky to wake up every day with no pain, hug my children, have a clean toilet and being able to reach it without anyone’s help. For majority in the world we live in, what I have just said is a fairy tale.

What are my aspirations?

Personal: to continue to find the strength and wisdom for balancing the energy and time between single-caretaker-motherhood, love and being loved, and the professional mission I strongly believe I have.

Business: to professionalize further the integration of arts and medicine field, make it not only a “must have” but also “want to have” service for every health-caring system and to create global movement in arts and health which transcends geographical, language, cultural and material barriers. The time is now.

My Biggest Success?

Follow my instincts.

My Most Challenging Moment?

Quite honestly, and genuinely humbly, I believe if we and those we love are given the good health, then all potential challenges we face should be seen as opportunities. .

Now that being said, with huge respect and empathy, I am textless living in times when so many wars are still going on, and so many lives are being neglected.

In lieu of that, very small contribution of my personal experience with war is the following:

Instead of heading to USA or somewhere in Europe to continue my medical studies which would have been an easy way to continue with a “normal” life of a 21-year-old, in 1990 I  decided to stay in Croatia where so called” Balkan wars”  were going on (btw in geographical context Croatia is not a Balkan country but what difference would it make to call it different now).  And I stayed throughout the war. Being silent and horrified, a witness of brutality and absurdity of one of the many wars. Remembering from that moment on, that the rest of the world simply does NOT care. That all of the sudden your life, like million others who are in the midst of the wars as you are reading this, can become a line in a newspaper which someone else might or might not read over a cup of coffee and a muffin and may or may not wrap a fish with it the next day.

Let me be clear: Making the decision to stay in the war was actually an easy decision in a challenging moment. I felt it was the only right decision at that time.  And everyone has a different perspective of course.

In one reality, which I would consider not acceptable for my moral values, a person could say that I “lost” a decade of my life in a war-wounded country, instead of propelling my career or who knows what somewhere else.

In the other reality, which I consider as a meaningful one, it taught me something that no other place could have done. It made everything relative and humble. If you are alive and breathe and can do something, you have a mission to fulfil. As simple as that.

I think I have learnt about the beauty of moments which can be taken away from us at any given time, the power of truth which can be overshadowed by lack of education and ignorance, and the strength of the mind which is completely underestimated.  I think it was offered to me to learn that, so I don’t get distracted any more in my life. To listen to the inner vibes, count my blessings and focus on my mission.

My Motto?

There is good and bad in everyone. Focus on good. Including yourself.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

The historians and public knowledge marked those who need to be acknowledged already. We read about them, hear about them, watch them through media, quote them.

But maybe the models are also those who I don’t know and who are not known, and who are doing good deeds every single day. Silently, gently and unselfishly.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

The Island of Korcula, Croatia.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

Wave and Wind. Not materialized.

My Current Passions?

Creativity. Freedom. And making things happen.