Skip to main content
Skip to footer

Erik Weihenmayer, Cerner’s John Peterzalek, Revenue Management Symposium and More | #CHC18 Day 2

Published on 10/8/2018

On Monday, we had a full day of sessions at the Revenue Management Symposium (RMS) and celebrated the official kick-off of the Cerner Health Conference (CHC) with a keynote address from adventurer and author Erik Weihenmayer and Cerner’s Chief Client Officer John Peterzalek. Here are today's highlights. 

Smarter care is better care 

In an evening keynote address, John Peterzalek opened up CHC with a warm welcome to the over 12,000 attendees. He noted that 11 countries are represented at this year’s conference, and over 400 industry partners will participate over the course of the week, with over 200 sessions taking place. 

“The theme of this year’s conference is smarter care,” Peterzalek said. “We've been working on digitizing the worlds health care systems for the last 20-plus years, and smarter care is about being able to take advantage of those 20-plus years of work.” 

Peterzalek broke down the three elements that lead into Cerner’s concept of smarter care: higher quality care, more efficient care and personal care. 

“At the end of the day, smarter care is better care,” Peterzalek said. “Over the next three and a half days, we're going to look at and acknowledge some of the industry changes that we have. We know the industry moves very quickly. How are we going to get involved in our personal health journey? How do we provide a better outcome and higher quality care while continuing to lower the cost? We are working every day to help beat those challenges.” 

Embracing the reach and breaking barriers 

Monday’s guest speaker was the world-renowned adventurer Erik Weihenmayer. In 2001, Weihenmayer made history as the first blind climber to reach the summit of Mount Everest; a few years later, he became one of fewer than 100 individuals to climb all of the Seven Summits. He’s also a bestselling author and the founder of No Barriers USA

Weihenmayer joined the stage at Cerner to share his story, along with a vision for overcoming adversity and creating a purpose-driven life. He began by telling the packed auditorium about how, at the age of 40 – after breaking records in rock climbing – he decided to take up a new sport: white water kayaking. He wanted to kayak all 277 miles of the Grand Canyon – one of the most challenging courses in the world. 

“What I think doesn't get talked about enough is the struggle,” Weihenmayer said as video of his time in the Grand Canyon displayed on the screens behind him. “It has been a struggle to live this life, what I call a ‘no barriers’ life – to push the parameters. Most of the time, you feel like you're failing it. The equation is understanding the learning process, this journey of growth and change and healing that we are all on.”

“There is more struggle on these journeys than there are triumphs,” he continued. “I know I'm the inspirational blind guy, so I know I shouldn't say this, but I'm irritated when people say ‘anything is possible.’ If anything was possible, I'm pretty sure I'd be racing NASCAR.” Weihenmayer smiled as the audience laughed. “'Anything is possible,’” he repeated. “It's a wonderful phrase, but it ignores all these forces that want to knock you flat on your back while you try to live a life that matters.”

Weihenmayer detailed how, in his book The Adversity Advantage, he teamed up with a scientist and studied teams and people around the world and came away understanding that people fall into three categories: quitters, campers and climbers. Weihemayer didn’t ruminate on the quitters (“self-explanatory,” he quipped), but called the campers “fascinating.” 

“There are those of us who start out climbing and along that ascent, things happen,” he explained. “We get to a nice safe plateau in the mountain, or we wake up one day and things have changed so much around us that we don’t know how to go on.” Climbers, he continued, are a rare group who continue to grow and challenge themselves and explore every day of their lives. “The question is: How do we climb when it is so much easier – when it makes so much more sense – to camp?”

In an emotional presentation, Weihenmayer guided the audience through a journey of its own. There's a lot of challenge in the world, on and off the mountain, he said, and the health care industry is wrought with its own impossible waves and treacherous crevasses. 

“When I look at the health care industry, it seems very chaotic and fragmented and in flux and sometimes heavily politicized,” he continued. “It's so hard, I imagine, to get things done and make an impact in that kind of environment. And yes, there are those things that might crush us – or they might become the most potent fuel source we have for transformation.”

Great things are accomplished with a great team. Weihenmayer used the metaphor of his own rope team, the individuals who helped him reach his many summits. Technology, he said, is his most important tool (he elaborated on a neuroplasticity innovation called BrainPort, which allows him to see images via a sensor on his tongue), it was the team he surrounded himself with that helped get him to the top. 

“In your industry, a mistake can cost a life,” he said, “and all these fears conspire against us. They paralyze us, so we decide to stop reaching. Those who embrace the reach – they understand life is an ongoing, never-ending process of reaching into the darkness when we don't know what we'll find, reaching into possibilities that are always unseen but are there.” 

As he exited the stage, walking stick in hand, Weihenmayer had one last piece of advice for his audience: “Keep climbing.” 

Driving a culture of innovation in health care 

In the RMS keynote address, Jeremy Gutsche – founder of, author and innovation expert – shared patterns of disruptive innovation and detailed how to create a culture of change. Using the metaphor of the hunter versus the farmer, Gutsche talked about how humans are conditioned to "repeat last year's harvest" instead of embracing change. 

“A million years ago, we were hunters,” he said, “and 10,000 years ago, humankind planted the first seed. That's when society started forming, because that's when we could stay put, and we came up with rules to protect our stuff.” 

With each layer of success, Gutsche continued, businesses become more complacent, repetitive and protective of what worked in the past. To counter those learned traits, Gutsche challenged attendees to tap into their hunter instincts: to be insatiable, without assuming any aspect of the business is correct; to be curious, continually seeking new ideas; and to be willing to destroy, especially if the model is outdated. 

“There has never been a better time to be innovators, but the catch is that it is not the time to preserve the status quo,” he concluded. “Now is the time for action, to push yourself and push your team. Try not to be that extra person in health care that says no; try to be that extra person that advocates and says yes, especially when it can be so difficult to do. Innovation is about something little you can make big.”  

Radical redesign in the health care industry 

Dr. Don Berwick detailed what he views as a breakdown within the health care industry and detailed why a radical redesign of principles is necessary to fix the system. He suggested 10 specific radical redesign principles that may help organizations provide better, more accessible health care at lower costs – while solving for physician burnout:

  • Change the balance of power
  • Standardize what makes sense
  • Customize to the individual
  • Promote wellbeing
  • Create joy in work
  • Make it easy
  • Move knowledge, not people
  • Collaborate and cooperate
  • Assume abundance
  • Return the money

“The indication Cerner is giving you with this conference is a sense of community, a sense of hope, a sense of efficacy through technology," Berwick said. “Together, we can achieve care better than we've ever seen, health better than we've ever known, cost we can all afford for every person, every time." 

Moving from physician burnout to professional fulfillment

Dr. Paul DeChant, deputy chief health officer for Simpler Consulting/IBM Watson Health, discussed how C-suite executives transform their health care organizations. He detailed what drives professional fulfillment and what drives physician burnout.
"Why are physicians experiencing burnout? A workplace that is driven by meaningful use, payers, prior authorization, patient demographics, the opioid crisis..." DeChant trailed off. "Physicians can click 500 to 1,200 times a day just typing in passwords. It's worth the investment into a single sign-on to help benefit physician satisfaction. When we are in a management role at a health care organization, our goal is to make sure physicians can have a meaningful relationship with the most important person: the patient." 

DeChant detailed several ways to prevent physician burnout, including developing a burnout prevention and treatment plan, establishing a center for physician wellbeing support and developing effective management systems. 

Preparing for tomorrow, today with revenue cycle management 

A group of revenue cycle leaders discussed the current state of revenue cycle management at Cerner, including the current work with clients and what is on the horizon in the months and years ahead. Leaders spoke on Cerner's current capabilities, planned updates and services like RevWorks.

“We believe our tools can create tremendous value,” said James English, vice president and general manager of RevWorks at Cerner. “Our goal is to be whatever support you need to improve you, enhance care and reduce cost.”

Cerner Health Conference (CHC) is Cerner’s annual, industry-leading health care event, taking place this year from Oct. 7-11 at the Kansas City Convention Center. To learn more or to sign up for education sessions, visit the CHC website

For more Cerner news and health IT insights, and to keep up to date with all the happenings at #CHC18, make sure you're following us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Make sure to check out our #CHC18 Twitter Moment:

2018 Cerner Health Conference (#CHC18)