Legally Changing Your Name as a Therapist
There are a lot of circumstances in which you would need to change your name as a therapist. You may have started your private practice as a DBA with your name, you may have gotten married, you may have thought of a fancy new title for your practice, or you might have gone through a divorce and need to change your name back. Because of the variety of situations that would call for a name change we wanted to create a blog that would help you think through all the different items that you would need to update if you were to change your name as a therapist.
First and foremost, if you are going to change your name as a therapist you need to check with the licensing agency within your state. Your license needs to match your name and if you have an LLC in your name you need to change your articles of organization. Check with your attorney to make sure that you are doing everything that you need to be doing from a legal perspective for a business name change. The licensing organization that you used for your license to practice is probably similar to the one that you used to obtain your LLC.
For example, in Michigan LARA handles all the professional licensing and business licensing for the entire state. Name changes are conducted through their website and by filling out and faxing forms back. As a general rule we recommend updating all the backend documentation first before updating any marketing materials.
Next you need to change the name that is associated with your NPI. Your NPI is a 10-digit number that is used to identify you when you submit claims to the insurance company. You can find the NPI registry at nppes.com and it is the same website that you used to apply for your NPI in the first place.
This is a critical change because the NPI is what insurance companies use to identify who provided the service to a client. If that name differs from what is legally your name then your claims could get rejected or you might have contract difficulties with the insurance companies.
Each Insurance Company You Credentialed With
Speaking of the insurance companies you're going to need to update your name with them as well. Since there is not a national database that all the insurance companies use, other than CAQH, you will need to find out how each of them processes name changes. They all vary by state and you will need to contact them specifically to find out how to get the name change updated.
We would recommend contacting your provider area representative so they can help guide you through the process and help you if you get stuck. You can usually find a directory of provider service representatives and consultants on the website of the insurance company or on your contract materials that were sent when you got credentialed. If you don't have that information then your biller may be able to help you locate who that person might be.
We mentioned CAQH above and that would be another location that needs to be updated as soon as possible. The reason CAQH needs to be updated as soon as possible is because that is the location that a lot of the insurance companies use to attest that your information is correct. If they go to audit your information and your name is different in their system but not in CAQH you may run into problems with claims processing or contract difficulty down the road. So make sure your CAQH account is updated.
Next you will need to make sure that your IRS documentation is updated so that your tax ID reflects the correct business name or name of the business owner. If you're using your name as a practice name and you are filing your taxes with your tax ID connected to your name then you will definitely need that to be updated as soon as possible. Given everything that has happened over the last few years the last thing that you need is for the IRS to come knocking at your door because you're filing information with a different name.
Next you need to change your name in your electronic health record system. We recommend using TherapyNotes for your electronic health record system and it is very easy to change your name within that system. The reason why you will need to change your name in your electronic health record system is for the sake of accuracy, but also because your name is generated from your electronic health record system onto claims going to the insurance company. If your name is different on the claims than what the insurance companies have on file you could run into problems getting the claims to process.
Finally you will need to update your name on your website and any key marketing documents that go to clients or potential clients. You want to make sure for the sake of clarity you have all the information correct and updated so that people know who you are and know who to contact in case they would like to receive services from you.
We know this can sound like a daunting task and a lot of detail and it certainly is. But there's also a lot of help out there for you and we would like to be a resource for you that you can access in order to make sure that all of your information is up to date. Part of our billing service is to make sure that claims are processing with all the correct information the first time the claim is submitted.
Feel free to give us a call at 734-437-9432 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be happy to explore how we can help your practice thrive and succeed in the coming years.