Less than two months after Kansas City-based Cerner Corp. lost co-founder and CEO Neal Patterson to cancer, his widow, Jeanne Lillig-Patterson, died Monday at 59. She had been one of Cerner’s first employees and an advocate for interoperabilty of patient data as she battled cancer.
On Twitter, David McCallie, M.D., senior vice president for medical informatics at Cerner, wrote that, “like Neal, she was a champion for improving HIT,” adding that Cerner’s commitment to the CommonWell Health Alliance “was driven in large measure by Jeanne's experience with her cancer care. She provided a primary use-case.”
April Rose Martin, a senior strategic analyst at Cerner, responded to McCaille’s tweet by saying that “Fix Jeanne's Record” was high on Neal's priority list. “Jeanne's record was in at least 6 EHRs.”
In 1995 Lillig-Patterson co-founded the First Hand Foundation, which gave Cerner employees another way to help patients in ways that software couldn’t.
In an online tribute, Melissa Frerking, vice president and executive director of First Hand, said Neal Patterson appropriately described her as the “Soul of Cerner.”
Frerking described some of the foundation’s work. “Jeanne wanted to do more for the children in Kansas City, Cerner’s own backyard, and that led to the creation of our health screenings program that now serves 21% of elementary schools in the KC metro area. Through this program, on average, 44% of children screened need additional testing or care, and, of course, Jeanne found a way to connect those dots as well.
“Jeanne also saw an opportunity to enhance how teenagers learn to make healthy lifestyle choices. This inspired the creation of an experiential health curriculum for students that now serves 29% of the high schools in the KC metro area.
“As a parishioner of St. Sabina Catholic Church, Jeanne knew Cerner’s population health efforts could help her own community. She saw families who did not have access to wellness screenings, fitness classes or knowledge about how to live a healthy life. Jeanne championed a replicable wellness center model, serving the entire parish, that teaches healthy lifestyle habits for the whole family. The amazing number of children, teenagers and families that have changed their health destiny for the better is a testament to the power of Jeanne’s vision!”