a16z Podcast

How Transparent Pricing Drives Healthcare Change

Marty Makary and Julie Yoo

Posted July 15, 2020

Dr. Marty Makary—surgical oncologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and health policy and innovation expert—has long been a passionate advocate for transparent pricing in the healthcare system. We don’t talk enough (or really at all) about price in healthcare, says Makary (instead, we talk about cost). But shedding a light on prices in healthcare—from not just what those prices are but how prices are set and the value we all receive as consumers of the system overall—can help us measure quality in medicine, and be a driver for real behavioral change in the healthcare system, correcting many of the unintended consequences of a fee-for-service system like surprise billing or unnecessary medical procedures.

In this conversation with a16z General Partner Julie Yoo, Makary and Yoo discuss what price transparency in the healthcare system could really do; how we can “steer” towards the good physicians who are not just highly skilled, but make the right judgment calls based on need and holistic health, not cost; how we might distinguish between high value and low value through medical appropriateness; and how we might gain clinical wisdom from other kinds of scientific discovery beyond randomized controls, especially during the wartime protocol of COVID-19.