Report on CanCham’s Focus on Healthcare and Strategic Partners

The CanCham Focus on Healthcare and Strategic Partners took place on Monday, October 29, 2018 at the Unity Business Centre, 109 Vienîbas gatve, Riga as a working session in the form of a “roundtable” type discussion on how the CanCham will help its members develop business opportunities for those involved in 

  • providing healthcare services in Latvia,
  • the production and sale of healthcare products or services,
  • medical tourism,
  • the search for strategic partners in the healthcare industry.

Particular emphasis is on working with Canada, but we also deal with other regions where our members are active including the USA, Scandinavia, India, Taiwan, etc. as we recognize that this is a global economy. In fact we see ourselves as serving a facilitator role connecting both Canada and Latvia to other international regions.

The Healthcare industry is currently experiencing tremendous growth, with Latvia being well positioned to play a significant role in the world market because of established and well developed human resources in the medical and pharmaceutical fields. Because of those present in the meeting, the emphasis turned to medical tourism which itself is a major and significantly growing market sector that Latvia could and should be taking advantage of.

Those who support the healthcare group (such as promotion, business support, tourism service providers, and market entry specialists) had also been invited to participate, but were largely not represented. This may be because they don’t see the potential, but may also be because of perceived liability associated with involvement in providing services related to medical tourism.

The meeting was chaired by Una Brûna, the CanCham Healthcare Group Leader and Ed Kalvins, CanCham Chairman. Fourteen people participated including representatives of the Taipei Mission Deputy Director Herbert Hsu and Abigail Chu.

The CanCham presented its strategy of developing strategic partnerships between our members, and individuals and/or companies abroad. The CanCham’s role would be to seek out foreign partners and connect then to our members, but leave it to the professionals in our organization to set up the commercial relationships. At the start, the CanCham would organize “virtual networking” (ie. using SKYPE, social media, etc.) in order to establish basic interest, but it was felt that person to person contact should eventually be encouraged. The CanCham web site is currently acting as a data base of members who want to reach out for new opportunities in both the “Groups” section ( which provides a listing of members by industry and the “Services” section ( which contains member “Sell Sheets”. Links to sell sheets are sent to those potentially interested in particular services.

All participants introduced themselves, and it was determined that representatives included medical service providers, and healthcare equipment and furniture manufacturers. The following group leaders who support the Healthcare and Strategic Partner initiative included Ilze Eisaka (Conferences, Business Travel, Tourism and Recreation) and Richard Hunter (Export/Import) – see

Medical services was discussed, with the main client groups being identified as the embassies, foreign business setting up in Latvia and the Canadian Armed Forces. However, the meeting concentrated on medical tourism which, for those present seemed to be more relevant.

One of the challenges discussed was that of “culture” and the need to make changes. Latvians tend to like to “do it alone” and not share information and experiences with others, and it was recognized that this could be a limiting factor in the development of the medical services and medical tourism industries.

For medical tourism, it was recognized that local service providers needed to provide complete “packaged services”, meaning that the requirements of clients had to be addressed and coordinated from the time a person steps off a plane to the time the patient returns to the home country and may be in need of additional service in a post operation period. It was also recognized that there may be situations that people in the local region could require services abroad, and that strategic partnerships could be developed to better serve both local and international clients.  

We identified that the following groups are required to be involved in the medical tourism project:

  1. Medical service providers: those providing the actual medical services whose expertise is more or less limited to these services (clinics, hospitals, doctors, dentists, surgeons, etc.).
  2. Non-medical service providers: including hotels, restaurants, spas, cultural attractions, sports attractions, tour operators etc. This is the group that would contribute added-value non-medical services to making the stay in Latvia pleasant.
  3. Supplemental service providers such as insurance brokers, financial specialists, legal experts, recruiters and marketing & sales specialists who would support the efforts of the care and service providers within their area of expertise. It was identified that this was an important segment that needs to be engaged for the overall effort and is needed by the medical community.
  4. DMC: Wikipedia defines a DMC (destination management company) as a professional services company with local knowledge, expertise and resources, working in the design and implementation of events, activities, tours, transportation and program logistics. It was agreed that this function is a key requirement to a coordinated medical services program.

We recognize that we have been talking about medical tourism for some time now with marginal results, and hence concluded that the DMC should be the focal point for immediate action. It was decided that Una Brûna (CanCham Healthcare Group Leader and Latvian American Eye Centre Director), Richard Hunter (Export/Import Services group Leader and Ozols America owner) and Ilze Puckure (Administrative Director, MFD Healthcare Group) would address the DMC issue by defining the activities of the DMC and how it would relate to the CanCham. It could be expected that a DMC could become a member of the CanCham whereby CanCham members could then channel contacts to a DNC in order to establish international strategic partnerships and profit from the contribution. Furthermore, the DMC concept could also be applicable to the Export/Import Service Group and provide coordination for these activities also.

Deputy Director Herbert Hsu and Abigail Chu of the Taipei Mission introduced the CanCham to medical tourism in Taiwan and the upcoming Medical Taiwan International Medical, Health & Care Expo from June 27-30, 2019 at the Taipei World Centre.

Ed Kalvins indicated that opportunities could be explored in Canada through ventureLab and the annual MedEdge conferences in June. MedEdge is Richmond Hill’s and the GTA’s Premier Life Sciences Business Summit. The event takes place every June and gives industry professionals the opportunity to meet with entrepreneurs, investors, government agencies and key partners in Ontario’s health sector. - a good place to look for strategic partners.

The CanCham will continue to develop the healthcare and strategic partner initiative, with the next similar meeting to be organized in early, 2019.

For pictures, see

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