I wanted to take a minute to discuss something important. As many of you are probably aware, the CEO of Cerner, Neal Patterson, passed away this last weekend from complications of his ongoing cancer treatment. For those that don’t know, Neal founded Cerner in the late 1970’s and has been its CEO ever since. Neal was a pioneer for the healthcare information technology and electronic medical records industry. He was the first to declare that an “enterprise platform” was required to solve the complexities of healthcare and he later became famous for his vision of eliminating the paper and digitizing healthcare.

There are many leaders throughout the KC community and throughout healthcare that spent time at Cerner over the decades. If you look across the healthcare IT landscape you can see the broad impact that Neal had on the industry, as there are literally hundreds of former Cerner associates playing key roles in the advancement of the solutions that serve healthcare. For Neal, this was his life’s work. He set a vision for the industry and spent his entire adult life working towards that vision.

I think it is important to recognize Neal’s contribution, because in many ways Netsmart would not be what it is today if it weren’t for the seeds that Neal planted along the way in his journey. If you step back and look at the grand scheme of things, we are all working towards Neal’s vision of eliminating the paper from healthcare.

I spent about 15 years at Cerner with 10 of those years working very closely with Neal. He taught me many things about healthcare, leadership and the value of innovation. The biggest gift that Neal gave me was the ability to find my passion and pursue it with sustained focus – and for that I will be forever grateful.

I truly believe Neal’s legacy is not in growing any one company to a certain size, but in the fire he lit in thousands of people to find their passion and to pursue it relentlessly.  My goal at Netsmart is to help our associates and clients do the same. There is a reason why the entry way to Netsmart’s Solutionarium looks the way it does.