Are you starting a private practice from home and wondering if it is wise to use your home address for virtual therapy? And if not, then what options do you have?
When setting up a private practice you are required to state your address on so. many. forms. But, if you are meeting with your clients virtually, or don’t have a formal office space you are utilizing, then you may feel unsure of what address you should be using.
I want to help you think through your options of what address to use for virtual therapy and why.
Why Not Use Your Home Address?
As you get further into setting up your private practice you start to realize that your address shows up all over the place. And is very much publicly available.
There’s the NPI you have to register with. If you live in a city or county that requires that you apply for a business license, then you are disclosing your address there as well.
If you are billing insurance often your address is visible in the paperwork that the insurance sends back to your client. Or if you offer superbills to your clients for out-of-network billing you need to divulge your address there which would mean your clients also have your address.
There are lots of different places like this where you are going to be listing your address, and it would be easy for folks to learn where you live if that’s also your business address.
Even despite those reasons, it still may be worthwhile to have a separate business address for marketing purposes. For example, you can list your business address on your website, which really helps with SEO.
So if you chose to use your home address for all of these things, then you are taking the risk of having your home address listed publicly all over the place for the world to see. Personally, I wouldn’t want to take that risk.
Therefore, I strongly recommend having a separate business address from your home address even when working from home and seeing clients virtually.
What Address Options Do I Have?
When determining what address to use for virtual therapy, you have many choices to consider.
1) PO Box
- This is a mailbox through USPS
- Where I live in San Diego, I can get a PO Box for $15-17 a month
- Downside of the PO Box: You have to check for mail in person (may present challenges if living farther away from the business address, living a nomadic lifestyle, etc.)
2) Private Mailbox Service
- There are many options including the UPS Store or Postal Annex
- You still have to check mail in person
- The main difference from a PO Box is that your address does not have “PO Box” written in it, instead, it has a suite number
- In my area, this option can cost around $36 a month
3) Virtual Mailbox
- All your mail is sent to a company where it is securely opened, scanned, and then digitally sent to you
- Can request mail to be physically forwarded to you
- MUST make sure your virtual mailbox is HIPAA secure by signing a BAA contract
4) Rent Mailbox From Existing Office
- If you have a friend or connection with someone who already has an office space, you could ask them if they have a subletting option for you to have your mail delivered to their location
- Or you could reach out to an office space that is convenient to you, and see if they have this option available
- This could be a viable option if you also want access to things like a copy or fax machine
- Could also be helpful if you have a very specific neighborhood that you are targeting
Keep These Things In Mind When Choosing An Address
1) Check Jurisdiction Laws
- Review your jurisdiction of licensure to see what they allow
- For example, in California businesses cannot be run from a PO Box, so that takes that option off the table
- Make sure you check with your licensure board and your specific state and city to make sure you are complying with all relevant laws for your area
2) Business Formation
- In some places, if you are a sole proprietor you can use a PO Box address, but if you are a S Corp or LLC you need a formal mailing address (UPS store or Virtual Mailbox)
- Make sure you do your research for your state and area for what rules might apply for your specific business entity
3) Insurance Panels
- Whether you are already on one or hope to be in the future, make sure you check to see if they have any requirements about what business address they deem appropriate
4) Mail Needs
- If you are receiving and sending a large amount of mail or packages then that might be more than a PO Box can handle
- But, if you’re like me and in 6 weeks or so I only accrue a few letter-sized items, then having a PO Box or UPS Store box may be the right choice
- Consider what your mail usage is and adjust accordingly
5) Additional Office Needs
- If you need access to any other resources like printers, or a fax machine then having a place where you can receive mail and have access to those tools at the same time could be helpful
I hope this helped you think through your options for what address to use for virtual therapy, and what choice makes the most sense for you.
Have More Questions About Virtual Therapy?
Chances are that if you are reading this article you may already have a practice in which you meet with your clients virtually or are gearing up to do just that.
I have a video about the cost of launching an exclusively teletherapy practice that may help guide you as you start your private practice.
I also have several other videos that are targeted specifically for therapists who are conducting online therapy.
And until next time, from one therapist to another: I wish you well!
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Photo by Ekaterina Belinskaya on Pexels