Member of the Month: Jon Rich, DO

Rural physician practices value-based care to drive better outcomes

By Samantha White
April 01, 2024

Jon Rich, DO, grew up in Louisiana where he attended a medical magnet high school program, followed by an undergraduate degree from Texas Christian University. After completing medical school at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine and a residency with the Conroe Regional Medical Center for Family Medicine, he chose to join a group practice in rural Athens, Texas. After a long career in a group setting, Rich recently set out on his own, starting a new practice in the same rural community where he has spent the past 18 years of his career in family medicine.

Tell us about your career in family medicine.
I practiced full-scope family medicine with surgical obstetrics for 11.5 years. As my practice and family grew, I stopped providing obstetrical care and focused on family medicine with increased administrative involvement. I have always cared for patients in my clinic and the hospital. In fact, for several years, the group was the default hospitalist group for our county's only hospital. During COVID-19, we continued to be very busy, often caring for patients in a hospital exceeding capacity while still seeing patients in the parking lots of our clinics. That continued care through COVID-19 led to me being appointed as the local health authority for Gun Barrel City. I have previously been a team physician for local schools in Athens and Mabank, a home health medical director locally, and, in addition to multiple leadership positions at the hospital, served as chief of staff at UT Health East Texas in Athens for 2023. Currently, I am a hospice medical director.

The group practice joined an accountable care organization here in East Texas in 2016. Initially, this was limited to commercial and traditional Medicare patients. As we learned and grew, seeking expansion, we joined Catalyst Health Network and became part of a more extensive, clinically integrated network. Joining this network expanded the patients enrolled in ACO programs to include Medicare Advantage products in 2021. Having maintained a leadership position for the practice related to value-based care, I became the Athens pod leader for Catalyst Health Network. I held positions on the East Texas Regional Operating Committee, Senior Health Board, and High Risk Work Group for Catalyst. Catalyst recently invited network physicians to partner with Agilon Health to deliver value-based care. The practice joined that effort and now benefits from a national-level organization with several years of experience delivering VBC.

I have recently resigned from my previous group and am embarking on the exciting venture of starting a new practice in the same community. At my new practice, Enriched Life Medical, I will continue to provide care for patients of all ages continuing to capitalize on the benefits of the value-based care model. Having more control over how I meet patients' needs and provide care, coupled with the support of Catalyst Health Network and Agilon Health, will only benefit patients and our community.

Who or what inspired you to become a family physician?
Having always enjoyed science and math while desiring to serve others, medicine was a natural choice. I did not grow up with specific friends or family members in health care. I did however, have multiple personal experiences as a consumer of primary care. Much of which was related to my own emergency medicine or sports medicine needs. In medical school, I was drawn to the long-term relationships with families, the multitude of care delivery opportunities, the challenge of mastering a non-limited knowledge base, and the flexibility to use both my mind and my hands in delivering care. Bringing those skills and education back to a rural area that reflects where I grew up was also a prime goal.

What are your practice passions?
I have a passion for providing birth-to-death care to my community. That care includes treating illness and dysfunction and maintaining health through preventive medicine and screenings. It requires data, reports, and reflection on where I can improve the delivery of care. Specifically, I try to assure I am reaching the patients I do see and seeing the patients that I can reach. I enjoy educating my patients about the choices and actions they can take to live long, enriched lives. I also particularly enjoy providing sports medicine, osteopathic manipulative medicine, and procedural needs in my office.

You have experience working in value-based care models. Tell us about that.
As I mentioned, our group joined an ACO in 2016 and subsequently partnered with Catalyst Health Network and eventually with Agilon Health to deliver value-based care.

Personally, I think VBC is what we all went into medicine believing we would be doing. Essentially, it is taking care of people in need to the peak of our abilities and being compensated for those efforts based on the results of our skills. Sadly, we quickly learned we would be paid for volume and turnover in the fee-for-service model that sadly does not place enough emphasis on patient outcomes. The fee-for-service model encourages doctors to manage less at each encounter, to focus on the immediate issues and goals, and to reduce the care they provide and services they offer to primarily those with the highest financial return. Finding docs willing to work to the full extent of their training is becoming increasingly rare. Very few do womb-to-tomb medicine, surgical procedures, hospital care, critical care, and community health outreach.

The growing frustration with the FFS model has been palpable for years, but changing this model is complex. The apparent security of continuing to do what we have always done is comforting. Continuing to be shown and modelling to others that we are making a positive difference for our patients and communities through VBC is the real motivation for physicians. The fact that the financial side of a VBC model allows us to expand on that positivity helps docs break from the rut of older models. Our ability to provide resources to patients will always be limited by the financial resources we have at hand. VBC opens up those resources when we are willing to take on the risk of providing excellent care to our patients with improved outcomes and lower expenses. The higher our access to those funds, the more we can provide for patients to drive better outcomes.

Why do you choose to be a TAFP member?
There is simply strength in numbers, and TAFP has continued to focus on the community's concerns through the eyes of physicians here in the state.

What do you enjoy doing outside of medicine?
My family and I enjoy serving at our church and building on our faith. I also enjoy hunting and fishing and raising my two boys. I have been lucky enough to help coach them in multiple youth sports. We also enjoy working on our ranch together and building just about anything with our hands. My oldest and I are rebuilding his ‘88 Ramcharger, and my youngest is trying to be the next great tournament bass fisherman with Texas High School Bass Association.

TAFP’s Member of the Month program highlights Texas family physicians in TAFP News Now and on the TAFP website. We feature a biography and a Q&A with a different TAFP member each month and his or her unique approach to family medicine. If you know an outstanding family physician colleague who you think should be featured as a Member of the Month or if you’d like to tell your own story, nominate yourself or your colleague by contacting TAFP by email at or by phone at (512) 329-8666.