Cerner CEO Neal Patterson remembered as innovator who helped grow KC's reputation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Cerner Corporation's chairmen and CEO, Neal Patterson, has died, according to a release. 

Patterson, 67, died from unexpected complications that arose after a recurrence of cancer. 

Patterson co-founded Cerner in 1979 with Cliff Illig, Cerner's Vice Chairman of the Board. Illig has been named chairman and interim CEO. 

“This is a profound loss. Neal and I have been partners and collaborators for nearly 40 years, and friends for longer than that,” Illig said in a statement. “Neal loved waking up every morning at the intersection of health care and IT. His entrepreneurial passion for using IT as a lever to eliminate error, variance, delay, waste and friction changed our industry."

Cerner quickly grew to what is now the countries largest healthcare technology company - earning more than $2 billion in revenue. 

"I think Neal Patterson was one of the first to realize electronic medical records could really be used to help prevent illnesses," said former Kansas City Councilman John Sharp. 

Sharp worked with Patterson and Cerner when they built their campus where the old Banister Mall was. 

"It has brought so many jobs to the Kansas City metropolitan area and I'm not talking about minimum wage jobs. These are highly-paid jobs and really it has helped Kansas City develop a reputation as a high-tech community," said Sharp. 

The company saw a boom after healthcare laws made it mandatory for doctors to keep electronic medical records. 

Patterson is also known for starting Sporting KC. 

Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes praised Patterson for striving for excellence and encouraging others to do the same. Under Patterson’s guidance, Sporting KC won two MLS Cups and three U.S. Open Cup Championships.

“It’s no wonder that the team and the club and the organization had such success because he was an incredibly brilliant person, just really smart,” Vermes said.

Seth Sinovic, a Sporting KC defender, said he will miss Patterson.  

“You know, every time you talked with him, every time he comes in and shakes your hand before or after the game, there’s just that immediate feeling of respect towards him,” said Sinovic.

"His passion for Kansas City and this region and his desire to make a big impact and do it in a first-class way really was something amazing to engage in," said Joe Reardon, Former Unified Government Mayor of Kansas City, Kansas.

At the time of the Sporting KC development, Reardon was the Unified Government Mayor of Kansas City Kansas. 

"He's changed Kansas City. He's moved us forward on multiple fronts. By way of creating this innovative company that has made an impact across the world," said Reardon. 

According to the release, The Cerner Board of Directors already had a succession plan in place and they have already begun the process of picking a new CEO.

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