Dr. William Rich’s long and distinguished service for the Academy includes major contributions in advocacy, practice management and quality of care measurement for ophthalmologists.
There is likely no ophthalmologist who has had a greater impact on our member’s Medicare revenue than Dr. Rich has. He twice advanced an initiative to update practice expenses that resulted in a significant improvement in ophthalmology payments.
His service to the Academy and to the profession of ophthalmology dates to the late 1970s, when he became involved in workforce studies and then served as the founding chair of the Academy’s practice management secretariat. Dr. Rich represented the Academy on the American Medical Association Specialty Society Relative Value Update Committee and then chaired it for six years, providing leadership for all of medicine.
In 1997, he was instrumental in the Academy’s reinvention of the Washington, D.C., office and operation, becoming its first medical director, providing strategic direction and operational support. He attended innumerable meetings with leaders in Congress, White House administrations, Medicare and various health policy stakeholders and major players.
Dr. Rich became a widely acknowledged national leader in quality and outcomes measurement, working with the Academy on the development of its Preferred Practice Patterns, in leadership of the National Quality Forum and with organizations such as the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. One of his most significant achievements was in chairing a task force on registries that outlined the rationale and requirements for developing a clinical data registry. This work served as the foundation for the IRIS® Registry (Intelligent Research in Sight) in March 2014, which has now grown into the world’s largest single specialty clinical data registry.
As of July 2019, the IRIS Registry has over 15,000 clinicians participating, with 60 million unique patients across the United States. Ophthalmologists use the IRIS Registry to review their patients’ outcomes and compare their performance to that of their peers around the country, as well as to meet the federal government’s quality reporting requirements. On the whole, the profession of ophthalmology has avoided $653 million in Medicare payment penalties through quality reporting with the IRIS Registry from 2014 to 2018.
In 2016, Dr. Rich served as president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Dr. Rich has served many other organizations in leadership positions, including the United Way, the Georgetown University Board of Governors and several Virginia physician organizations and health systems.
His career is marked by sustained and truly impactful service spanning over four decades. During all this time, he enjoyed a busy private practice of comprehensive ophthalmology in northern Virginia. With his passion for quality of care, clinically relevant measurement of outcomes of care and rational and data-driven health policy, Dr. Rich has truly put patients first and left a monumental legacy in our profession.