Cerner CEO Neal Patterson to undergo cancer treatment, calls condition 'curable'

Electronic health record executive said he will still be involved in the business.
By Bernie Monegain
12:52 PM
Share
Neal Patterson, co-founder and CEO of health IT giant Cerner

Neal Patterson, co-founder and CEO of health IT giant Cerner, has been diagnosed with a “treatable and curable” form of cancer, the executive said in a note he filed Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. 

He plans to begin treatment immediately.

Patterson, in the statement, said he was diagnosed with soft tissue cancer earlier in the month, adding that his physician said the disease had not progressed to any other area in his body.

“It's not often I'm forced to slow down, but the silver lining will be having some extra 'think' time to reflect on all the extraordinary opportunities we have in health IT,” he said in the note. “After years of studying health care systems around the world, this unique opportunity already has my gears turning.”

Patterson said Cerner’s existing leadership will manage the publicly owned company in his absence.

“I plan to stay involved in the business, but with less travel and fewer meetings,” he said. “In reality, it will not be a big change compared to how we run Cerner day to day already.”

Cerner officials have declined to comment beyond Patterson’s statement, which it said he chose to make out of his own “duty to communicate.”

In November 2014, Patterson revealed that his wife, Jeanne, had  been fighting stage IV metastatic breast cancer for six years. Her case, he said, was an object lesson in the need for better interoperability among electronic systems.

[Also: At Cerner, interoperability is personal]

Jeanne had to carry "bags and bags of records to each and every appointment," said Patterson. "Her records have wound up in more than 20 different health organization EMRs as she's progressed on her 'journey' of therapies and surgeries."

Shares of Cerner fell slightly following the news, trading down nearly 2 percent to $56.53 per share in noontime trading.

Here is Patterson's statement in its entirety:

Clients, shareholders and colleagues:

I wanted to let you know that, just after the new year, I was diagnosed with a soft tissue cancer.  My physician says the type of cancer I have is treatable and curable, and there is no evidence of cancer elsewhere in my body.  I plan to begin treatment immediately. 

We have the best leadership team in healthcare IT, and we are well equipped to continue to manage Cerner with our existing leadership structure while I receive treatment.  I plan to stay involved in the business, but with less travel and fewer meetings.  In reality, it will not be a big change compared to how we run Cerner day to day already.

It's not often I'm forced to slow down, but the silver lining will be having some extra 'think' time to reflect on all the extraordinary opportunities we have in health IT.  After years of studying health care systems around the world, this unique opportunity already has my gears turning.

Balancing transparency and privacy is always a judgment call, but I felt as though I have a duty to communicate.  I feel fine, and I'm surrounded by extraordinarily supportive family, friends, Cerner leaders and Board members.  Thanks for your support.

It's not often I'm forced to slow down, but the silver lining will be having some extra 'think' time to reflect on all the extraordinary opportunities we have in health IT.  After years of studying health care systems around the world, this unique opportunity already has my gears turning.

Balancing transparency and privacy is always a judgment call, but I felt as though I have a duty to communicate. I feel fine, and I’m surrounded by extraordinarily supportive family, friends, Cerner leaders and Board members. Thanks for your support.

Neal

Twitter: @HealthITNews