Patterson grew up on the family farm near Manchester, Oklahoma and received his bachelors and Masters from Oklahoma State University in 1971 and 1972. Following a stint with Arthur Andersen, he and Arthur Andersen colleagues Cliff Illig and Paul Gorup founded Cerner in 1979.
Patterson served in the Army National Guard during Vietnam, though only served on active duty during basic training. 
Patterson was featured in a USA Today article, Scandals lead execs to 'Atlas Shrugged', as a member of a friendly group of CEOs who have a working knowledge of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. He became a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at Oklahoma State University.
Patterson is infamous for an e-mail flaming managers for not coming to work before 8 am and leaving before 5 pm, now a prominent example used when discussing e-mail netiquette. On the day that the email was posted to Yahoo!, the company's market cap fell by over 22% from a high of $1.5 billion USD.
In April 2010, Forbes magazine named Patterson fourth on their annual list of "America's Best-Performing Bosses" based on a formula for calculating which executives delivered the best shareholder value relative to their total compensation. Factors included stock performance relative to industry peers over the past six years, annualized stock performance during the leader's total tenure and performance relative to the S&P 500 over that time, and total compensation over the past six years.
Sporting Kansas City
On August 31, 2006, Patterson and five other individuals purchased Sporting Kansas City (then known as the Kansas City Wizards), a Major League Soccer team, from Lamar Hunt. The other members of the ownership group at the time of purchase were Cliff Illig, Rock Island Capital’s Robb Heineman, Greg Maday, David French, and Pat Curran, founder of C3 Holdings. The group stated its intention to keep Sporting Kansas City in the Kansas City area.
- Healthcare Magazine
- USATODAY.com - Scandals lead execs to 'Atlas Shrugged'
- Welcome to Pi Kappa Alpha, Iota Theta Chapter!
- BBC News - Boss's e-mail bites back
- ITworld.com - Unix security: Proprietary email
- E-Mail Rules: A Business Guide to Managing Policies, Security, and Legal Issues for E-Mail and Digital Communications By Randolph Kahn & Nancy Flynn http://books.google.com/books?id=Q9CbhiflZh0C&pg=PA45&dq=netiquette&ie=ISO-8859-1&sig=5jsrxx0u3qWX1_d4KXCl-_4Tc_4#PPA47,M1
- In Pictures: America's Best-Performing Bosses http://www.forbes.com/2010/04/27/best-performing-chief-executive-compensation-leadership-boss-10-best-performing-ceos_slide_5.html
- Bang for the Buck http://archive.is/20130123143256/http://www.forbes.com/2010/04/27/best-performing-chief-executive-shareholders-leadership-boss-10-bang-for-the-buck.html
- American Soccer News - Kansas City Wizards (Sporting Kansas City)