Cerner says it is capitalizing on health care reform

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cerner_2When the Moore, Okla., tornado caused hospital patients to be evacuated elsewhere, they had a friend in Cerner Corp.

Jeff Townsend, chief of staff of the Kansas City-based health care information technology company, told shareholders at Cerner’s annual meeting Friday that digitized health records followed patients to their new locations, providing timely and accurate health care information that previously would have been lost.

Several Cerner executives were clear, though, that it doesn’t take a disaster to show why Cerner and its industry are doing well.

Speaking to about 100 shareholders at the company’s headquarters, co-founder and chief executive Neal Patterson emphasized that the business — located at the intersection of health care and information technology — is doing “hard, complex, ambiguous” work.

It designs software, statistical models and systems that gather population health information, figure out what care works best, healthwise and financially, and predict what will happen.

“We believe in the IT embedded in health care,” Patterson said. “We have to automate more. The systems have to get smarter. The only other option is to ration health care.”

After chief financial officer Marc Naughton tended to routine annual meeting matters, co-founder Cliff Illig focused on the company’s corporate citizenship and economic impact. He described Cerner as the Kansas City area’s second-largest employer, with 8,167 local employees and a local payroll of $650 million. It employs 12,000 worldwide.

It’s fast-growing, too. It added about 3,000 jobs in the last two years. And next month it begins moving IT staff into its third “campus,” a two-tower complex in Wyandotte County that is Cerner’s third physical footprint in the metro area. When completed, the company will have 3.6 million square feet of office space, Illig said.

Date: May 24, 2013


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