Former Philips chief Shafer named Cerner’s new CEO, chairman

Brent Shafer, previously CEO of Philips North America, has been named Cerner's new chief executive and chairman effective Feb. 1.

“For decades, Cerner has built its reputation on meaningful innovation and driving client value,” Shafer said in a statement. “This company’s history of remarkable, sustained growth is testament to a strong leadership culture, and I’m excited to celebrate many new milestones with Cerner associates around the world. My commitment to Cerner’s clients, shareholders and associates worldwide is that we will continue to be the catalyst for real and effective improvement across health care.”

Shafer has served as CEO of Philips North America since Feb. 2014 after previously holding the title of CEO for the company’s global home healthcare business between 2010 and 2014. He began at the company in 2005 as CEO in their North American sales and service region, having previously worked in sales with Johnson & Johnson, Hewlett-Packard’s medical products group and GE Medical Systems.

The CEO search began after co-founder Neal Patterson died in July 2017 at the age of 67 due to complications from cancer. Co-founder Cliff Illig has served since then in an interim capacity and will return to his role as vice chairman of the board once Shafer takes over.

“Brent is a proven chief executive who has helped lead the growth and strategies of a complex, multinational organization over a number of years,” Illig said in a statement. “He is committed to innovation, with extensive knowledge of health care, technology and consumer markets and an exceptional skill set that complements Cerner’s strong leadership team. Since our founding, Cerner has used the power of information technology to disrupt and improve health care. The addition of Brent to our leadership team positions Cerner well for our next era of growth.”

Cerner was the largest electronic health records (EHR) vendor in terms of revenue related to hardware, software and services as of 2016. Shafer will assume leadership just as the company is set to take on one of its biggest contracts: transitioning the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to a Cerner EHR and making it interoperable with the Cerner system being implemented at the U.S. Department of Defense. The project could take up to eight years and require $782 million from the federal government to begin the switch.