Neal Patterson served as chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Cerner, a company he co-founded with two colleagues in 1979, for 38 years. Patterson was one of the longest-serving CEOs in the United States. Today Cerner is the world’s largest independent health information technology company with $4.8 billion in revenues in 2016 and more than 25,000 associates worldwide. Cerner has been recognized multiple times by Forbes as one of the “World’s Most Innovative Companies,” and by Fortune as one of the “World’s Most Admired Companies.”
Widely respected for his vision and strategic thinking, Patterson had a unique ability to anticipate and articulate how information technology would transform health care. Starting with a single laboratory information system in 1979, by the mid-1980s, Patterson was investing in creating a suite of fully integrated, clinically focused commercial health care applications. Cerner entered the 1990s with a first-of-its-kind application set built on a common platform with real-time interactive decision support. In the mid-1990s, Cerner invested significant resources to rebuild the platform on client-server technology using a person-centric data model. During his multi-decade tenure as CEO, Patterson led Cerner to invest more than $5.6 billion in R&D of health IT, and the solutions Cerner has designed are deployed at more than 25,000 health care facilities in more than 35 countries. In 2015, Cerner technology was selected by the U.S. Department of Defense to digitize health records for 9.5 million beneficiaries at about 1,000 military sites worldwide. As a public company, Cerner has outperformed the broader markets since its inception and today is listed on the S&P 500 and NASDAQ-100 indexes.
Patterson co-founded and served on the executive board of the First Hand Foundation, a non-profit foundation that provides assistance to children with critical health care needs. He served as a Lifetime Director for the 118-year-old American Royal Association celebrating agrarian lifestyles and values, and he gave time to support the development of other entrepreneurs. He was co-owner of Kansas City’s Major League Soccer franchise, Sporting KC, alongside Cerner co-founder Cliff Illig.
Patterson was posthumously named to the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame and awarded the Henry W. Bloch International Entrepreneur of the Year by the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in 2019.
Patterson grew up on his family’s farm near Manchester, Okla. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and master’s degree in business administration from Oklahoma State University.
Neal L. Patterson passed away on Sunday, July 9, 2017, from complications of recently recurrent cancer. He was 67.
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