Interview: Dr. Steve Cooley, CEO, SmartCare Family Medical Centers

Q&A with Dr. Steve Cooley

CEO of SmartCare Family Medical Centers

As we warm up for our upcoming Webinar on Retail Clinics, we wanted to give you a chance to hear from one of our distinguished speakers on how the retail clinic business is working for them. Below, here’s some key excerpts from our talk with Dr. Cooley, who shares candidly on why he chose to create a retail clinic business, what opportunities he sees, which competitors are keeping him on his toes and what his goals are for the next couple of years.


Fierce Healthcare:

What made you decide to go into this business?

Steve Cooley:
Prior to this, I was a board examiner for American Board of Emergency Medicine, and an emergency physician.
Also, I’ve been part of five companies in various forms of ambulatory healthcare, going back to 1981.

The reason I decided to go into this business is because I believe it can be one of the disruptive innovations in healthcare. It has the potential, for a small segment of primary care, of changing delivery and resulting in more efficient use of the healthcare system’s resources.

FH: What are best opportunities that you see?

SC: Possible venues for our clinics include pharmacy, grocery and big box retail—and there are reasonable arguments for all three venues. For example, pharmacies are by nature healthcare destinations, and there are more pharmacies than big-box retail stores.

But we’re making our bet, in part, on volume of foot traffic. We’ve decided to focus on relationships with high-traffic hosts, which means big-box retail or supermarkets whose daily transaction value places them in the top 15 to 20 percent of supermarket volume nationally. For the to 15 to 20 percent of supermarkets, average traffic is 3,000 visitors a day. And Wal-Mart is plus or minus 7,000 to 8,000 a day. They both fit. And evidence suggests that this will work. In Minneapolis, for example, where all three types of venues have clinics, volumes in Target stores have exceeded volumes in other locations.

We think that foot traffic will matter, because it gives us more options as far as ways to capture patients during the day. Patients won’t have to have to have a single reason to come see us – seeking healthcare for a single issue – they can see us as a complimentary event combined with buying merchandise.

FH: What kind of volume do you expect to do with patients per day?

SC: We assume that nurse practitioner can see two to 2.5 patients per hour. If you look at American Academy or American College of Nurse Practitioners’ standards, they tell you something similar.

Interview: Dr. Steve Cooley, CEO, SmartCare Family Medical Centers
Read more on