Cerner Taps AWS

As CEO of Cerner, Brent Shafer has a big job ahead of him. He is charged with leading the multi-billion-dollar EHR firm into the future, and it's a battle being waged on many fronts. As part of a broader strategy to "help create the next chapter of healthcare's digital age," Shafer announced a new partnership with AWS at the Cerner Healthcare Conference held in Kansas City in October.

“Health care will change more in the next five years than it has in the past 30,” Shafer told an audience during his keynote address the Cerner Health Conference. “As we have for the past four decades, Cerner’s technology, and collaborative programs, along with the most respected providers, will lead a wave of disruptive innovation focused on making health care better.”

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The Missouri-based business intends to draw upon AWS’ full range of cloud-based capabilities – including machine learning, analytics, and IoT – to enhance the patient care experience, improve interoperability, and reduce per capita costs of healthcare. Cerner will leverage Amazon’s web services to launch projects like its Opioid Predictor, a tool that will use artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to identify potential at-risk patients.

The health data firm also announced three other initiatives at the conference, including its Cerner Learner Framework, a cloud-based training platform that will be available to clients free of charge. Secondly, Project Apollo is a cutting-edge cognitive health platform that will reduce barriers to quick client adoption of new technology. Finally, Cerner Seamless Interoperability is a selection of dashboard and analytics options designed to enhance data interoperability and usability.

Since its start in 1979, Cerner has never been without its founding leaders. Long-time friends and colleagues Neal Patterson, Cliff Illig, and Paul Gorup grew their fledgling software firm into one of the biggest electronic health record providers in the country. In 2016, co-founder and chief executive officer Neal Patterson passed away and Shafer was named CEO six months later. After enacting a series of internal and external reviews, Shafer initiated a major corporate reorg and a series of a cost cutting measures. He also made peace with hedge fund firm Starboard Value after the activist investor launched a campaign to gain more influence over Cerner’s operations.

Now / Next was Cerner’s chosen theme for its 2019 health conference and reflects both the symbolic and actual crossroads facing Shafer and his leadership team at this pivotal moment in the healthcare firm’s history. Their choice to bring AWS onboard will help transform Cerner into a lean, efficient business focused on satisfying clients with next-gen health tech solutions that work.

“We’re on the leading edge of healthcare’s cognitive age, making technology more relevant and data more actionable for health systems,” Shafer said. “We’ve spent 40 years digitizing data for hundreds of millions of people across the world and taken health records out of paper charts and manila folders. Our work with AWS will put us at the leading edge of cognitive data. Where we're headed is taking the digital age to a new level to reduce costs, providing more insights into diseases, and giving clinicians back valuable time.”