Revolutionizing Modern Medicine

By Patricia Canole | Photography by Mike Yi

After a brief period as a concert pianist and overseeing the health of thousands of U.S. soldiers as an Army physician, Laura Purdy, MD/MBA, continues to inspire with her endless passion for revolutionizing modern wellness. In contrast, many might consider her diversion from music to medicine surprising. Dr. Purdy—known as “America’s Favorite Doctor” and “the voice of the digital healthcare revolution”—made it her mission to serve others, working to improve the medical industry and patient experience. Having been licensed to practice in all 50 states (including Washington, D.C.), she remains unwavering in her commitment to leaving the world a far better place.

First introduced to telehealth during her military service, Dr. Purdy quickly realized the potential of emerging technology to redefine how healthcare is delivered and received. Today, her pioneering efforts proactively propel a new era of “concierge medicine,” marked by a determination to put patient needs first in pursuing transparent, affordable, and accessible healthcare. She leads the charge in both word and deed, managing a panel of over 25,000 patients nationwide while advising hundreds of telehealth startups and serving as Medical Director of her AFD brand. A trusted authority and sought-after expert in her field, she has received widespread acclaim. She has consistently been featured in global media outlets for her efforts to shape the future of telehealth and virtual wellness.

We met with Dr. Purdy to learn more about the woman behind the historic telemedicine movement.

One might call your early career transition “staggering,” with a rapid switch from professional music performance to military service and, eventually, the voice of virtual health. What motivated you toward medicine—and telemedicine in particular?
My entire life, I’ve always felt a desire to serve and lead people. My father taught me by example to persist in being kind and leading with heart, no matter the situation. The piano performance gave me an outlet to serve people through the shared language of music, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I could do more to influence the lives of those around me directly.

My transition into military medicine allowed me to do just that: help more people in immediately tangible ways. During my 14 years as an Army physician, I served thousands of active duty and training military soldiers and their families. I was also afforded the opportunity to spearhead the Army’s implementation of new telemedicine networks.

Using this advanced technology, I was able to provide life-saving services to soldiers across enemy lines, as well as civilian patients caught in the crosshairs of the Ukrainian conflict. As one of the first physicians to encounter this emerging method of care, I had a front-row seat to experience how it can affect and improve lives on a global scale - and that is the exact mission I’m working toward today.  

How did you get to be “America’s Favorite Doctor?” Was it a goal, or did it happen organically?
“America’s Favorite Doctor” was a moniker given to me by my peers and colleagues several years ago because of my persistently positive attitude and ability to connect with people—and it stuck! These days, branding yourself is a key part of any business model. So, when we considered introducing my approach to a broader audience, “America’s Favorite Doctor” seemed like the most organic and authentic fit.

Our readers would love to know more about your practice, AFD — can anyone call for a consultation?
At this point, anyone can book a virtual visit with me simply by clicking “Become a Patient” on my website at drlaurapurdy.com. The AFD brand also encompasses several medical spas and clinics we are establishing nationwide over the next few years, with our first location opening in Brentwood, Tennessee. These are intended to offer a new model of concierge medicine, with patient-first services provided by trained, licensed, AFD-approved physicians and staff. Meanwhile, besides overseeing these locations under the title of Medical Director, I will continue outreach efforts nationwide to help usher in a new, advanced era of affordable, accessible medicine for all.

You belong to an elite group of physicians licensed across all 50 states. What is this licensing process like, and how does it serve your mission of bringing telehealth to the world?
It’s a challenging endeavor, particularly when no support systems are in place to guide physicians in their efforts. Instead, it more often seems like our traditional institutions have made us the enemy, forced to tread a fine line between adequately serving the needs of our patients and avoiding costly litigation. Right now, the process is long and complicated, dictated by the vastly different laws governing each state.

For this reason, only one percent of physicians, including myself, have successfully received nationwide licensure. Even today, I must work hard to actively stay on top of changing licensure requirements and archaic legislation that keeps the telehealth movement from reaching its full potential.  

To me, however, this is a worthwhile battle to fight to enact changes that can serve today’s modern society (patients and providers) more effectively and efficiently. Multi-state licensure allows me to provide care to patients nationwide via telehealth platforms. It sets a new standard for other physicians who seek to play a vital part at the forefront of this movement.  

How has telehealth revolutionized healthcare? What do you see as a concern?
In short, telehealth streamlines the process of providing quality care to patients using the power of the Internet. Providers can meet with patients anywhere that a patient can connect to an online platform, allowing providers to serve a greater number of patients while also enabling patients to seek care from the comfort of home—or anywhere they roam.

This diminishes patient care costs associated with transportation or time missed at work. It also supports providers in managing their patient panel more efficiently without being tied to the limits of a physical office. Physicians can serve more patients while managing a healthier work-life balance and staving off the burnout we are currently seeing in record numbers.  

I do realize that virtual methods have their limitations. Some patients prefer in-person visits, and some need care that requires it. Several complex laws limit our ability to expand telehealth as quickly as we would like. However, I believe we will start to see changes over the next decade that will enable us to apply advanced technological solutions more readily to today’s biggest healthcare challenges.  

Now that we’ve arrived at the holiday season, what must the public do to avoid illness?
As in every colder season, people will gather more indoors. This requires us all to be more vigilant about washing hands, covering sneezes, and staying home when sick to avoid the rapid spread of germs. Cold air also tends to dry out the sinuses, making the body more susceptible to these invisible invaders. I always recommend to patients, whether in cold season or not, to prioritize rest and recovery. Take good care of your body daily to help it perform at its best!

You serve in several professional roles, including physician, medical advisor, and business strategist. Do you have a favorite?
I love them all! My brain is always active and planning what’s next, so I genuinely enjoy changing lanes and managing the range of tasks associated with each of my professional roles. I also love that each enables me to meet new and different people from so many different walks of life!

How would you describe yourself?
I am a go-getter, a self-starter, and a revolutionary.

How do you find work-life balance?
I am taking it one moment and one day at a time and trusting my ability to know what’s best. No matter who you are, finding balance in a busy world like ours is always a challenge, with so many priorities pulling at you every minute of the day. 

It’s helpful to stay focused on what’s most important to me at any given moment and pursue that goal without the guilt and fear so many of us carry about what others think we should be doing. I know myself; I know my business; I know my family.  

I’ve put people I trust in place to help me manage the various tasks associated with each sphere of responsibility. And I trust myself, most of all, to make the right decision when allocating my time and attention where it’s needed. 

What has been the biggest challenge in your work?
It is pushing for change against the momentum of a medical industry built for an old way of doing things. Progress is slow, but it’s happening. All we can do is keep trying because telehealth is the way of the future.

What has been the most memorable experience?
Seeing the telehealth-based changes we’ve dreamed about begin to come to fruition. As I travel the country and speak to audiences about our vision for the future of healthcare, I see faces light up when they start to imagine what can be: a more transparent, effective, efficient, and patient-centered model that serves our needs. Through our online platform and the opening of our AFD clinics, we are advancing a future that supports healthier, more hopeful lives for the next generation. It still gives me goosebumps when I talk about it!

What is your dream for the future—where do you see your company in the next five years?
As we open our clinics and continue to expand our patient panel, my vision is that AFD’s model will catch on and inspire other emerging virtual wellness platforms. I plan to continue advising and supporting new ventures in this space, which holds untold potential for uplifting our national and global approach to wellness.

For more information on Dr. Laura Purdy and the rise of the telehealth revolution, visit drlaurapurdy.com