2018 Annual Educational Conference
September 20-22, 2018
Restoring Healthcare In A Technocratic Age: Building Parallel Structures to Deliver Compassionate Care
Renaissance Dallas Addison Hotel, 15201 Dallas Parkway, Addison, TX 75001
We are all called, as physicians and healthcare providers, to practice medicine in accord with the natural law and the teachings of Christ promulgated by His Holy Church. At our best we try to see the face of Christ in the patients we care for, often in difficult circumstances. There are cultural influences that make this especially difficult at times; John Paul II’s “Culture of Death,” Benedict XVI’s “Dictatorship of Relativism,” and Francis’ “Throwaway Culture” brilliantly capture many of the challenges we face in our vocation of caring for the sick and suffering. Technocracies have been utilized in service of ideologies in the past. Examples can easily be discerned in various totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. In the present society, technocracy has been said to exercise a “soft totalitarianism” of its own. These effects can certainly be felt within the healthcare field.
The title of our conference implies that technocracy poses yet another challenge to providing good care to our patients. The term “technocracy” has been used to describe a state of affairs wherein various technologies become ends in themselves; in our work, for example, technologies often define the purposes of medicine rather than the other way around. Such technologies can be genetic, pharmacologic, mechanical, and interestingly, managerial or bureaucratic (for example, practice regulations, billing codes, electronic health records, and other means of managing behavior and information). Technology in medicine can certainly serve the needs of the patient, and techniques of administrative management can help with running a practice, as long as these means serve the proper end of medicine, namely providing for the health of the whole patient in accord with the natural law. Often, however, technical, administrative, and regulatory strategies can either be used in the service of ideologies contrary to the natural law and our Catholic Faith, or can become ends in themselves, usurping the good of the patient.
The conference will investigate the ways in which we healthcare providers, primarily physicians but also physician’s assistants, pharmacists, nurses, therapists and naturopaths, can best serve our patients in the face of technocratic challenges. We will discuss how this looks within institutions as currently constituted, and we will also envision parallel structures for the delivery of compassionate care. We will discuss the ways in which technocracy can pave the way for the insidious implementation of various ideologies such as those illustrated by our current and recent popes as above. Much has been written about the role of ideologies in commodifying the patient encounter, in violating the conscience of practitioners, and in depersonalizing and even taking the lives of the most vulnerable members of society, among other grave ills. Less is written on the role of technocracy in contributing to these crises of our time, and we will strive to fill this gap.
With hearts and minds lifted up in prayer, we will ask for the grace to see past our computer screens and into the face of Christ in our patients. We will strive together to love and serve, and explore some influences, technocratic and otherwise, that impede us. Above all, we will encourage each other in the pursuit of heroic virtue in communion with Christ and His Church.
Dr. John Schirger appreciates Dr. Clifford Arnold’s assistance with formulation of this statement.
The patron saints of our conference are St. John Paul II and Mother Teresa, who exemplified a commitment to serving Christ in the suffering, confident in the truth of His teaching and love.