Cerner touts $1.2 billion in local economic impact, says it expects to employ 25,000 in area

Kansas City-based Cerner held its annual shareholders meeting Friday at its headquarters.
Kansas City-based Cerner held its annual shareholders meeting Friday at its headquarters.

Cerner Corp. executives are getting “tremendous input” from Neal Patterson the patient as well as Neal Patterson the co-founder, company officials have told stockholders.

Patterson missed his usual role presiding over the Kansas City-based company’s annual meeting Friday, but co-founder Cliff Illig told those in attendance that Patterson remains involved with the senior management team and that he is providing “great insight from his experience.”

Cerner revealed in January that Patterson was undergoing treatment for cancer.

Cerner has an economic impact of at least $1.2 billion on the Kansas City area, executives said. The health care information technology company employs 11,500 in the area and expects local employment to grow to 25,000 when its south Kansas City campus is completed.

Cerner officers gave a positive overview of the company’s previously published financial results, particularly claiming a growth in market share against its major electronic medical records competitor, Epic Systems Inc., a privately held company based in Wisconsin. Company president Zane Burke said Cerner’s electronic health records system added 236 hospital clients last year.

Cerner emphasizes open electronic health records that can be shared across the continuum of health care organizations, and company executives repeatedly mentioned the importance of portable, easily discoverable health care records.

In response to shareholder questions, Cerner executives reiterated hiring expectations. Last year, because of the company’s acquisition of Siemens Health Services, another health technology provider, Cerner added about 9,500 employees, whom the company refers to as associates. Typically, Cerner is adding 1,000 a year.

Chief people officer Julie Wilson said Cerner’s growth requires “very robust recruiting engines,” working with colleges and universities as well as high school programs that encourage interest in technology careers.

Burke highlighted Cerner’s new bookings, which refer to business contracts signed with hospitals and other health care providers.

“We brought in more new clients to Cerner than any time in our corporate history,” Burke said.

Mike Nill, Cerner’s chief operating officer, told shareholders that the company continues to undertake a “rigorous process” to decide how to invest about $750 million in research and development, analyzing the company’s overall vision, the competitive landscape and where the overall health care industry is heading.

Diane Stafford: 816-234-4359, @kcstarstafford