To fix healthcare, focus on the patient
© Getty Images

No matter the road this country takes to replacing the Affordable Care Act, one thing is for certain: We must bend the healthcare cost curve downward.

As the newest physician in Congress, I believe our legislative purpose is to create an environment which results in all Americans having access to higher-quality, lower-cost healthcare. 


Right now, healthcare in this country is almost like a house sliding down a muddy hill in a landslide, and everyone is screaming about saving the sofa. 

Congress cannot just save the sofa, or rearrange the furniture. We need a bold and disruptive plan that starts with a new solid foundation.

Its cornerstones should be built on consumerization, or in other words, how to deliver healthcare that is focused on and driven by each individual patient.

The first cornerstone is innovation.

We must create an environment that fosters innovation, not government regulation. Overregulation squashes every creative mind in healthcare, which has become one of the most regulated industries in America. We now have federal and state laws and regulations that don’t allow for new technology and new ideas in the delivery of healthcare. 

While our universities and researchers do great work, we must truly unleash them to accomplish bold disruption: like how Uber changed how we commute in urban areas, how Microsoft brought us the home computer, and how cellphones revolutionized how the world communicates. 

Simple yet big ideas and innovations are being held back by antiquated roadblocks and regulations.

The second cornerstone is competition.

Like all industries, overregulation has created uncertainty and consolidation in the healthcare industry. These rules and laws protect the status quo. Only the large, multibillion-dollar corporations can take on the mass of new regulations, decreasing competition. 

When these regulations are pulled back, entrepreneurs will thrive, and new entities that you and I have never thought of will fight to get in the game. 

As long as we keep track of quality as determined by the healthcare industry and consumers — not necessarily by the federal government — American consumers will figure out what is best for them.

The next cornerstone is transparency.

Finally, and most importantly, we must create an environment to allow the patient to become a true, free-market consumer. Value and cost transparency must be the new norm, not the exception.

Transparency of price, outcomes, and patient satisfaction must be publicly shared.

 Whatever the next generation of healthcare purchasing looks like, we must allow incentives to be put in place that allow the patient to make a decision with value-based purchasing. 

It must be easier for folks to get new, innovative medicines to the market. Right now, the Food and Drug Administration stifles growth with a long, cumbersome process which often discourages and disallows advancements.

It is our challenge and our responsibility to unleash innovation in healthcare and to put the doctor and patient back in charge. 

With premiums and deductibles skyrocketing under the current system, many folks don’t have meaningful coverage. More than ever, our healthcare debate must be framed around the patient. 

All providers, whether commercial, employers, individuals, Medicaid or Medicare, must keep consumerization — innovation, competition and transparency — at the forefront.

Marshall represents Kansas’s 1st District. He is a member of the GOP Doctors Caucus.

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.