Jeanne Lillig-Patterson, wife of the late Cerner CEO Neal Patterson, dies

She was employee No. 7 at Cerner and co-founder of First Hand Foundation.
By Bernie Monegain
12:36 PM
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Jeanne Lillig-Patterson dies

Jeanne Lillig-Patterson. Photo via Twitter

Jeanne-Lillig-Patterson, wife of the late Neal Patterson, the co-founder and CEO of healthcare IT giant Cerner, died Monday of breast cancer. She was 59 years old. Her husband died July 9 of soft tissue cancer, which he described in January 2016 as “treatable and curable.” He was 67 years old.

At Cerner, Lillig-Patterson was employee No. 7, or as Neal Patterson called it, “007.” It was there she co-founded the First Hand Foundation, which provides funding for children with health-related needs when insurance and other financial resources have been exhausted. The co-founders were Patterson and another Cerner co-founder Cliff Illig.

Neal Patterson talked openly about his wife’s cancer. Back in 2014, in a keynote about interoperability at the Cerner client conference, he said, "Jeanne has been fighting stage IV metastatic breast cancer for six years. Her records have wound up in more than 20 different health organization EMRs as she's progressed on her journey of therapies and surgeries. CommonWell is an attempt to address many of the barriers to solving that problem."

The CommonWell Health Alliance was launched on March 4, 2013 by founding members Cerner, McKesson, Allscripts, athenahealth, Greenway and Evident, to spur interoperability among various EHRs.

“We are heartbroken to share the news of Jeanne Lillig-Patterson’s passing,” wrote Natalie Sevcik on the First Hand Foundation website, referencing Lillig-Patterson’s extraordinarily generous life. “As Cerner’s seventh associate (007), Jeanne had a determination and sharp wit that carried her through the company’s early years,” Sevcik wrote. “Neal once joked that she had more jobs than any single person at Cerner. Above all, Jeanne was overwhelmingly kind-hearted, and Neal appropriately described her as the ‘Soul of Cerner.’”

Lillig-Patterson co-founded the foundation in 1995. Since its launch, the foundation reached more than 300,000 children from 93 countries, according to its records

Illig, who is serving as Cerner’s interim CEO, issued this statement on behalf of himself and his wife:

“Bonne and I and the entire Cerner team are deeply saddened by the loss of our friend Jeanne Lillig-Patterson. Jeanne’s generosity with her time, energy and service to others is a testament to the heart she brought to all she was involved in. Her compassion was most evident with First Hand Foundation. Neal often called her the ‘Soul of Cerner’ because of the breadth of her impact on the company. She was one of our earliest associates, and her significant contributions continue to be felt across Cerner.”

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
Email the writer: bernie.monegain@himssmedia.com