Less than two years since its inception, Birmingham Legion FC has become a force in the Birmingham community. This expansion member of the USL Championship League is the city’s only professional sports franchise and has quickly established an enthusiastic base of loyal fans from across the state.
Key to their success is a close relationship with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) – the team plays their home matches at BBVA Field on the UAB campus, while UAB’s Orthopedics practice serves at the official healthcare provider for the club’s players. This partnership has recently been made even stronger with the addition of Clearwave, the leader in electronic self check-in solutions for the healthcare community. Clearwave technology sits at patient check-in points all across the UAB facility. And now, Clearwave is a proud corporate sponsor of Birmingham Legion FC, making the circle complete.
We sat down with Jay Heaps, President and General Manager of the Birmingham Legion FC and Mike Lamb, Chief Executive Officer at Clearwave to talk about the impact of this relationship on the Birmingham community and the surprising synergies between their diverse, yet very complementary, organizations.
Jay: The Birmingham opportunity was one I simply couldn’t pass up. I spent much of my career on the technical side of the game as a player and Head Coach and I worked at Morgan Stanley before that. So as much as I had a passion for the game, I also had a passion for business. The role in Birmingham provided me the chance to combine both, giving me responsibility for everything from player selection to technical operations to fan recruitment. Of course, I first wanted to make sure my family was on board – this had to be a family decision. But once I brought my wife and kids for a visit, the decision was made. They fell in love with Birmingham instantly.
Jay: From Day One, our organization has focused on what we call the “three pillars” – Passion, Pride and Community. We felt it was critical that we become part of the fabric of the Birmingham community – as an employer, as mentors, as a source of inspiration and as a business partner. Our business partners are especially important to our success on several levels. Obviously, their sponsorships are an important source of revenue, and they also help build our fan base, as they use our games to entertain customers, employees and out-of-town guests. But it’s important to us that every partnership is mutually supportive – partners like Clearwave and UAB need to enjoy the benefits as well, beyond just seeing their names on our jerseys or in the stadium.
Mike: The city of Birmingham and the entire state of Alabama are very important to the Clearwave family. We currently work with 40 different health systems and medical practices across the state, including cutting-edge facilities like UAB, and every year, more than a million patients in the Birmingham area interact with our technology when they arrive for their physician appointments or hospital visits. We’re proud of the success we’ve had in Birmingham, and we felt like this partnership was a perfect way to show our appreciation and our commitment to the community.
Jay: I think everyone would agree that creating an optimal patient experience is important, but for an athletic team like ours, it’s essential. If an athlete is injured, we need to get them into treatment as quickly as possible so they can return to play – and that requires great efficiency, an open dialogue and a more progressive approach to patient care. The UAB facility and their physicians and staff excel at this, and I know that Clearwave plays a critical role. Clearwave is the best when it comes to patient check-in, and you can feel the impact across UAB. We see it when we check in – whether I’m bringing in one of my players or my daughter for her recent appendectomy. Clearwave is essential to the patient experience. Plus, they’re also doing a lot of great things for the Birmingham community.
Mike: As a technology company, innovation is at the heart of everything we do, and modernizing the patient experience is our mission. 70% of facilities and practices currently are not automated on the check-in side. We want to change that. We want to remove traditional inefficiencies like paper forms and manual data entry and replace them with a modern solution to make the patient experience much more pleasant for all. This will expedite everything from gathering patient information to checking insurance eligibility to collecting co-pays. And we can do it for everyone from large medical facilities to specialty practices with just a few physicians.
Mike: Absolutely. We plan to have Clearwave tablets and kiosks around the stadium where fans can use the system to interact with the team and participate in promotions. It will add an entirely new dimension to the fan experience, which we’re excited about. And they’ll enjoy the power of Clearwave beyond the doctor’s office – which, let’s face it, is even more fun.