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  • May 13 2011

    Becoming a health company: building healthy teams

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    As Cerner makes the turn to be known as a health company and not just a healthcare IT company, I am impressed by the strides we're making. Our Healthe Living with Rewards program gives Cerner associates and their spouses the ability to earn incentive points for maintaining or improving their health, reducing the out-of-pocket costs of healthcare. The sales of healthy meals in our on-site cafes have steadily increased. There have been grassroots efforts like walking meetings and campaigns encouraging associates to take the stairs.

    In October, Cerner took an aggressive step towards walking the walk as a health company with the launch of Slimdown Throwdown, a weight loss competition that includes two challenges. Announced at Cerner's Town Hall in October 2011, the Cabinet Challenge pits members of the executive cabinet against self-organized teams of associates. The winning team will be named in October 2011 based on the highest percentage of weight loss with prizes that include tropical vacations and extra paid time off. In the Campus Challenge, Cerner associates from the World Headquarters (WHQ) and Innovation campuses in Kansas City are competing as groups to reach a campus-specific weight loss goal. The WHQ campus is competing to wear jeans to work all summer instead of business casual attire, and the Innovation Campus is competing to win a new fitness center.

    When the cabinet announced their challenge to us in October, I don't think they imagined such a positive response. The team-based competition has served as a tremendous activation event with over 3,000 associates across 210 teams signed up to participate. The results are equally compelling. To date, Cerner associates have lost close to 20,000 pounds which is ~3.5% of our starting weight and ~7lbs per person. For context, we're just shy of the largest killer whale which weighed 22K lbs.

    At an individual level, there have been wonderful stories of how associates lives have been changed for the better. Our colleagues are able to get off medications, spend more and higher-quality time with their family, and have more energy than before. People are creating their team… not just the Slimdown team, but the friends, families, medical professionals, and organizations that are helping them on their personal path towards a healthier life. I feel very fortunate to be part of a great team that is helping Cerner achieve its mission of improving the health of communities starting with our own Cerner community.

    Clay Patterson is the Managing Director for Cerner's Personal Health Agile Business Unit and is responsible for leading Cerner's businesses focused on engaging individuals in their health to result in improved health at a lower cost within communities across the globe. Patterson joined Cerner in 2001 as a business consultant and was instrumental in the large-scale acquisition and integration of BeyondNow, which became Cerner's Homecare suite of solutions. He also was the engagement leader for five solutions within an Ascension Health member health system. From 2007–2009, Patterson worked for McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm. At McKinsey & Company, he advised clients from diverse industries on critical business challenges. He rejoined Cerner in 2009. Patterson earned bachelor's degrees in mathematics and management science from Southern Methodist University. He received a master's degree in business administration from Harvard Business School.

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