Neal Patterson, Cerner’s Billionaire Co-Founder CEO, Dies at 67

  • He disclosed a ‘soft-tissue cancer’ diagnosis in January 2016
  • Patterson was part-owner of soccer team Sporting Kansas City

Neal Patterson, the billionaire chief executive officer and co-founder of health-care information technology company Cerner Corp., died Sunday from complications related to cancer. He was 67.

He suffered a “recent recurrence” of the soft-tissue cancer that he disclosed in January 2016, the company said in a statement.

Neal Patterson

Photographer: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Patterson helped start the Kansas City, Missouri-based health-care information and services company in 1979. Cerner made some of its greatest strides following the 2009 federal law that required hospitals across the U.S. to digitize patient records. Cerner now describes itself as the world’s largest stand-alone health-care information technology company, with annual revenue projected to reach $5 billion this year.

Co-founder and vice chairman Cliff Illig has been named chairman and interim CEO, the company said. Cerner’s board has had a succession plan in place and the process to select a new CEO is “nearing a conclusion,” according to the company statement.

Patterson led a five-person investment group in its 2006 acquisition of Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City, which was followed by the club’s second championship in 2013.

When Patterson disclosed he had cancer in 2016, he reflected on the “silver lining” of personally experiencing the inner workings of the health-care industry.

“We have the best leadership team in health care IT, and we are well-equipped to continue to manage Cerner with our existing leadership structure while I receive treatment," Patterson said in an email to shareholders, clients and the company.

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