Holy Cross Magazine featured notable alumni, Dr. Jennifer Schneider, and discussed how her liberal arts education has shaped her professional life. Schneider’s mission to care for the whole person, a concept she applies every day at Livongo, is rooted in her well-rounded educational experience.
January 17, 2018 by Holy Cross Magazine
Schneider, Chief Medical Officer of the health care tech startup Livongo in Mountain View, Calif., majored in biology, but she spent her junior year abroad at Oxford, studying architecture, philosophy and literature. That’s something she felt not many science majors would choose to do, though it worked for her. She was prepared in science, and the liberal arts enabled her to see people’s social, as well as medical, needs.
“In many ways, because of liberal arts, I think I’ve been successful in medicine,” she says. “To succeed in medicine, you need work ethic and principles and structure,’’ all things she began developing in her undergraduate days.
Schneider describes herself as being a “pretty geeky student-athlete” at Holy Cross, someone who ran track and cross-country, studied late into the night and often went to 11 p.m. Mass — her time to reflect at the end of the day.
Despite the demands of her position, the mother of three children under 10 somehow finds time to compete in triathlons, and in 2016 completed an Ironman in Santa Rosa, California, swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles. “It was hard,” she says. “I decided to go for it and I did it.”
Schneider says technology has yet to revolutionize the health care industry as it has others. Her company develops products to empower all people living with chronic conditions, like diabetes and hypertension, and she oversees trials and outcomes.
Schneider has had Type 1 diabetes for 30 years and says Livongo uses technology to combine testing, real-time information, support and behavior tracking to make managing the disease easier.
“It’s a lot of little choices every day for the rest of your life,” she says. “It’s not a one-and-done deal, so the ability to influence behavior at the right time is really critical.”
Hospitals are not effective at taking care of people with chronic conditions, according to Schneider, because they traditionally treat people with acute problems — heart attacks and broken legs. So-called disruptive technologies like those at Livongo are changing the model, putting the patient at the center of his or her care, she says.
And she feels her ability to successfully do that stems in part from the Jesuit idea of mission. “How can you ask and figure out the very hard analytical scientific question while you’re dealing with people’s lives?”
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