Dr. David Feinberg shares strategy for Cerner & the leadership advice that has guided his career 

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Throughout his 25-year career in different healthcare and technology spaces, Cerner CEO David Feinberg, MD, has maintained a central focus on what he considers the most important thing: the patient. 

Dr. Feinberg, who officially took the helm of Cerner as president and CEO on Oct. 1, joined the Kansas City, Mo.-based EHR vendor from Google Health, where he had served as vice president of the tech giant's healthcare division since 2019. 

Before Google, he was president and CEO of Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger, and he also spent more than 20 years at UCLA in various leadership positions including vice chancellor and CEO of UCLA Hospital System. 

Here, Dr. Feinberg discusses his leadership strategy, his focus on patient care innovation at Cerner and how he wants to improve EHRs. 

Note: Responses have been edited lightly for clarity and style.

Question: When you think back to the beginning of your clinical career, did you ever imagine you would take the helm of major health tech companies including Google and now Cerner? Was technology always an interest of yours? 

Dr. David Feinberg: Thinking back on my career, I have always wanted to make sure every patient that I had the privilege to treat got the best care, and I always wanted to scale the "best care" to everyone, every family, every community. My passion is helping people, and I think technology is a great tool to accomplish that. Technology isn't my calling; caring for others is.

Q: You're joining Cerner at not just a pivotal time in the company's workplace strategy but a period of workplace evolution across numerous industries. As Cerner prepares to fully implement its hybrid workplace model early next year, how do you expect the initiative to set the company apart from competitors? 

DF: Cerner has a tremendous bench of talent — that can and will help change healthcare across the world. To me, it's less about where we get the work done and more about how we get the work done. We see our competition as heart disease, cancer, chronic illness. And we're working to make technology easier to use, more understandable — so caregivers can more easily fight off the competition.  

Q: Many point to the pandemic as the push that propelled health IT innovation, with areas like telehealth and data analytics growing drastically. What would you say is the biggest opportunity for digital transformation in healthcare today? 

DF: EHR companies have done a good job of gathering data, automating processes and digitizing medical records, but health technology has yet to meet its full potential. We have an opportunity to not only diagnose more rapidly but also predict and help prevent future health challenges. At Cerner, we are working to improve usability, make data understandable and actionable and simplify the billing process — improvements that have the potential to help the world avoid or at least minimize the effects of the next pandemic.

Q: You bring extensive leadership experience to your role as CEO of Cerner. What is one piece of leadership advice that you have found the most effective throughout your career? 

DF: Early in my career, someone I looked up to gave me some advice: "Focus on one thing because a thousand things are going to come your way." I focused on sitting with patients, talking with them and understanding them. To this day, the patient remains the most important thing. Healthcare, simply put, is people taking care of people. That's why I'm at Cerner — to continue to seek innovative ways to take care of the patient.

Q: What is the biggest EHR user experience challenge clinicians face today, and how is Cerner working to alleviate it? 

DF: EHRs are one of the greatest health inventions of the last century. But we've not yet realized the true promise of healthcare technology. We have a lot of work to do. Digitized records need to be more usable and provide actual information. They need to be measured by how they enable caregivers to spend more time at the bedside and less time at the terminal. Improving the usability of Cerner solutions is at the top of my list of things to do.

Q: After your first few weeks on the job, what has gotten you most excited about leading Cerner, and what can you share in terms of your strategy moving forward?

DF: I've been wildly impressed by the passion and enthusiasm of the 25,000-plus Cerner associates. It's clear to me they understand our job is much bigger than digitizing records; we are helping patients and caregivers around the world. It's a mission that I have built my career on and a mission I share with my colleagues at Cerner.

 

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