Cerner CEO Makes An Emotional Plea For Interoperability Among Health Care Technology Providers

Diane Stafford | The Kansas City Star | November 4, 2014

Jeanne Patterson has battled breast, bone and brain cancer, carrying suitcase-size bags of her paper health records to about 20 locations around the country.  Her husband, Cerner Corp. co-founder and chief executive Neal Patterson, intends to get rid of Jeanne’s bags.  A rapt audience of about 11,000 Tuesday morning at the annual Cerner Health Conference heard Patterson emotionally invoke personal experience to illustrate his passion for what his company does.

The North Kansas City-based company is an industry leader in digitizing patient health records and working with other providers to make that information “interoperable” across health care information technology providers.  “As a country, we’re making progress, but not fast enough,” Patterson said in the conference’s keynote address at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Without naming Cerner’s prime competitor in hospital IT systems, Epic, Patterson said there remains a “black hole” in interoperability.  Privately owned Epic is not a member of the CommonWell Health Alliance, an alliance of five health care IT companies that Patterson said is likely to grow with the addition of one other to include the nation’s largest providers — except for Epic.  “Open is happening,” Patterson said of health IT interoperability, which was fueled partly by federal “meaningful use” legislation, partly by technology innovation and partly by multifaceted efforts to lower health care costs and improve the quality of care...