PCF PEC Survey Data Collection Begins Next Week!
folder_openOther Announcementscalendar_todayPosted September 21, 2023

Data collection for the Performance Year (PY) 2023 PCF Patient Experience of Care (PEC) Survey begins Monday, September 25, 2023. The PCF PEC Survey team appreciates all of the survey vendors’ hard work in getting ready for the survey. We are looking forward to continuing to assist vendors in a successful PEC Survey data collection round.

Below are some key upcoming dates to be aware of as the PCF PEC Survey gets underway: 

  • Monday, September 25, 2023 – Start of mail data collection/virtual site visits 
  • Tuesday, September 26, 2023 –Vendor Help Desk opens
  • Monday, October 2, 2023 – 1st questionnaire mailing 
  • Tuesday, October 10, 2023*- Thank you/reminder postcard mailing
  • Monday, October 23, 2023 – 1st interim data set submission due 
  • Monday, November 20, 2023 – Start of telephone follow-up & interviewer monitoring sessions 
  • Tuesday, November 28, 2023 – 2nd interim data set submission due
  • Sunday, December 17, 2023 – All mail and telephone data collection ends 
  • Tuesday, January 16, 2024 – Final data set submission due 

(*note date change) 

As a reminder, vendors may submit an Exception Request Form (ERF) to extend the CATI telephone follow-up deadline to 12/19/2023. See this announcement for more information.

The full data collection schedule is available on the PEC Survey website. Vendors with questions should contact the PCF PEC Survey Team via e-mail at or call 1-833-997-2715. 

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PEC Survey Reminder Postcard Mailing- October 9 Holiday
folder_openOther Announcementscalendar_todayPosted September 20, 2023

Since October 9, 2023 is a U.S. federal holiday and the post offices will be closed, the mailing start date for reminder/thank you postcards has been changed to October 10, 2023. All other mailings must adhere to the dates specified in the Quality Assurance Guidelines (QAG) Chapter 5.  

Vendors with questions should contact the PCF PECS Team via e-mail at or call 1-833-997-2715. 

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Required Address Verifications Prior to Data Collection
folder_openOther Announcementscalendar_todayPosted September 14, 2023

Now that PEC Survey vendors have received the survey sample, they must perform the following protocols prior to the start of data collection.

  1. Ask practice sites for their name and physical address. Vendors should ask their client PCF practice site for the practice site’s name and address that sample patients will recognize, and use that name in the survey cover letter, the mail survey questionnaire, and telephone script. The PEC Survey team provided the practice dba name and mailing address on the sample files, exactly as they were entered into the PCF Portal by the practice.

    It is possible the patient-recognizable name and address differ from the name and address on the sample file, if the practice site elected to use a legal or other name in the PCF model. Ask your client practices- “What name is on your front door? What name is on your website?” Performing this check with practices is also an excellent way to identify any typographical errors. A common reason for nonresponse to the survey is lack of recognition to the practice name and address. Completing this step can help boost response rates!

    Please see section 4.6.1 in the Quality Assurance Guide for more information.

  2. Employ Address Standardization and Forwarding Address Techniques. Vendors must verify each mailing address in the sample file by using a commercial address update and standardization service. A commercial address update service that fixes address formatting errors (promoting timely delivery) and accesses Address Forwarding requests, such as National Change of Address (NCOA) or the U.S. Postal Service Zip+4 software, are recommended.

    When a new/forwarding address for a patient is known, the survey vendor should take advantage of that and send the mailing to the forwarding address. Survey vendors are permitted to ask the client practice sites to provide updated address information for all patients they treated during the sampling window if the vendor has an appropriate agreement with the practice sites. Survey vendors cannot give a list of the sampled patients to the practices to request this information. Please see sections 4.6.4 and 5.5.7 in the Quality Assurance Guide for more information.

Please note that survey vendors are only allowed to code cases as ineligible if address standardization shows that the sampled patient resides out of the country or has moved out of the country during data collection. Any other address standardization information is not permitted to be used to code cases as ineligible (i.e., addresses identified as prisons or nursing homes, or indication that the patient is deceased).

Vendors with questions should contact the PCF PECS Team via e-mail at or call 1-833-997-2715.

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Option to Extend CATI Follow Up to 12/19/2023
folder_openOther Announcementscalendar_todayPosted September 7, 2023

CMS is offering all PCF PEC Survey vendors the option to extend the PY 2023 CATI telephone follow-up data collection deadline to Tuesday, December 19, 2023. This CATI telephone follow-up extension allows vendors to make up two days of calling that may be missed due to any Thanksgiving holiday closures and allow more time to satisfy all requirements for telephone follow-up attempts for their sample.  

Please note, this optional extension does not apply to surveys that are returned by mail. The cutoff for accepting mail survey responses remains December 17, 2023. The final data submission date of 1/16/2024 will remain the same and this extension would only be granted for the current performance year. 

Vendors who would like to extend their CATI telephone follow-up to December 19, 2023 for PY 2023 must submit an Exceptions Request Form no later than 5:00pm ET on Thursday, November 30, 2023

Vendors with questions should contact the PEC Survey Team at or call 1-833-997-2715. 

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Virtual Site Visits for Active PCF PEC Survey Vendors
folder_openOther Announcementscalendar_todayPosted September 6, 2023

Virtual site visits for PCF PEC Survey vendors with active PY 2023 practice clients will be conducted to ensure compliance with all PCF PEC Survey requirements. Generally, the PCF PECS virtual site visit team will consist of two to four individuals. Additionally, CMS may join site visits. The visits will be conducted through secure video conference calls via BlueJeans and will consist of 1 half-day session during the field period. Separate sessions may be scheduled during the mail and telephone periods of data collection as needed.  

RTI will email vendors information about the proposed date(s), any area(s) of concern, and specific vendor personnel who should be in attendance. If a subcontractor is used in a substantial role, the virtual site visit will include at least one video conference call with the subcontractor. RTI and the vendor will schedule the site visit(s) at a mutually agreeable time.  

Approximately one week prior to the virtual site visit, the PCF PEC Survey team will email vendors a draft Site Visit Agenda and offer to conduct a brief pre-site visit meeting to review the draft agenda, answer any questions that the vendor might have about the site visit, and to test the screensharing features in BlueJeans. If any changes are made to the draft Site Visit Agenda as a result of feedback from the vendor via email or the pre-site visit meeting, the PEC Survey team will send a final Site Visit Agenda. Along with the final Site Visit Agenda, the PEC Survey team will send a note in the email specifying the documents or other resources the vendor is expected to present during the video conference calls. Vendors are strongly encouraged to provide a presentation to help describe their survey processes. If possible, please provide any presentation materials you plan to share with the PCF PEC Survey team before your site visit date. Based on our experience last year, we found that the site visits ran more efficiently when vendors provided a presentation during the call. Examples of topics we expect to cover may include but are not limited to: 

  • A video “walk through” of the physical area used for interviewing, mailing, or data processing. 
  • A document “step through” of the systems and processes used from the point of receiving the sample patient file to preparation of a final data file. 
  • Software/programs in downloading and storing the sample patient file.  
  • Review of telephone interviewing monitoring logs. 
  • A walkthrough of methods used for tracking contacts made and status codes. 
  • Documentation and observation related to SPAM flagging. 
  • A review of documentation of the above steps. 
  • Interviews with the survey vendor’s key PCF PEC Survey project staff, including the project manager and data manager. 
  • A discussion about the Help Desk voicemail and email. 
  • A walkthrough of the systems in place to protect the confidentiality of electronic data received from PCF PEC Survey Team and survey data received from patients. 

Both the RTI site visit team and the survey vendor staff will sign a Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA). The CDA states that all staff must maintain confidence or restrict the disclosure of all proprietary information received or observed during the site visit.  

After each site visit, RTI will prepare and submit to CMS a Site Visit Report, which will summarize the findings from each site visit, including any deficiencies and problems observed and remaining. The Site Visit Report will also describe corrective actions that the survey vendor will be required to take to correct any deficiencies or problems noted. The PCF PECS Team will provide the survey vendor with the Site Visit Report after it has been reviewed with CMS project staff. 

Vendors with questions should contact the PCF PECS Team via e-mail at or call 1-833-997-2715. 

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PY 2023 PCF PEC Survey Sample File Will Be Ready 9/11
folder_openSample Downloadcalendar_todayPosted September 5, 2023

Sample files for the Performance Year (PY) 2023 PCF PEC Survey will be available for download Monday, September 11, 2023, on the PCF PECS website by survey vendors who have been authorized by one or more PCF practices to collect and submit survey data on their behalf. 

The PCF PECS website has a Downloading Sample Files Quick Link to walk vendors through the download process. To download the sample file, vendors should: 

  • Log in to the PCF PECS website using their user credentials. 
  • Under the "Data Submission" tab, choose the “Sample File Download” option. 
  • Read and confirm that they agree to the attestation statement. 
  • Click on the link to their encrypted sample file. 

Vendors will receive an email notification on Monday, September 11, with a password to open the encrypted file. Due to CMS rules regarding data security, only the registered vendor point of contact can receive this email notification. We are unable to include other vendor staff on this communication. Please review this Quick Link on How to Add or Update Vendor Point of Contact Information if you need to make a change to your registered vendor point of contact prior to September 11.

The sample file to be downloaded by the survey vendor will be a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet containing contact information (information needed to administer the survey) for each sampled patient. The sample patient variables contained in each sample file are listed in the example sample file that was posted to the PCF PECS website. If a survey vendor is authorized to administer the survey on behalf of multiple PCF practice sites, patient information for sampled patients from all the PCF practice sites that have authorized the survey vendor will be included in one Excel file and will be sorted by Practice Site ID. 

Please download and review an updated copy of your Survey Vendor Authorization Report. It is very important that vendors carefully review the sample file. Please note that practices that have recently withdrawn, closed, or been terminated have been removed from the sample file. 

Vendors must email the PCF PECS Team within 24 hours of downloading the sample file and attest to all the following statements: 

  1. The vendor has downloaded the sample file. 
  2. The vendor has reviewed the sample file and compared it to their Vendor Authorization Report and their own records. 
  3. The file contains sample for each practice with which the vendor has a contract to administer the survey in PY 2023. 
  4. The file does not contain sample for any practice with which the vendor does not have a current contract. 

Please note that if your practice(s) have more than 1 provider, the list of providers may be split across more than one variable column in your sample file. Please review the Example Sample file available on the PCF PEC Survey website to see how this may look.

Per Section 4.6.4 in the Quality Assurance Guidelines (QAG): After the sample file is downloaded, survey vendors must verify each mailing address that is included in the sample file provided by CMS using a commercial address update and standardization service, such as the National Change of Address. When a new/forwarding address for a patient is known, the survey vendor should take advantage of that and send the mailing to the forwarding address. 

Per Section 5.6.1 of the QAG, vendors must also attempt to obtain phone numbers for the subset of patients in the sample for which a phone number was not provided. Survey vendors shall use a secondary source, such as phone matching services or software, directory assistance, and other phone directory applications. Vendors should take steps to ensure the telephone numbers provided by the service are associated with the patient in the sample file.

Please review Sections 4.5 and 4.6 of the Quality Assurance Guidelines for more information about sample file protocols and required quality control steps for PCF PECS. 

A Sample File Summary Report will be sent to each survey vendor via email message after the sample file is downloaded. This report will show the number of patients sampled for each practice that authorized the vendor to submit data on its behalf. 

Vendors with questions should contact the PCF PECS Team via e-mail at or call 1-833-997-2715. Practices should contact PCF Support at or call 1-888-517-7753. 

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RTI International will be closed on 9/4 for the Labor Day Holiday
folder_openOther Announcementscalendar_todayPosted August 30, 2023

RTI International will be closed on Monday, September 4, 2023, for the Labor Day holiday. The PCF PEC Survey Team will respond to email and telephone inquiries that are received on those dates after RTI re-opens on Tuesday, September 5, 2023. 

Vendors with questions should contact the PCF PECS Team via e-mail at or call 1-833-997-2715. 

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PCF PEC Survey Practices Must Notify Vendor of Residential Care/Assisted Living Facilities
folder_openOther Announcementscalendar_todayPosted August 28, 2023

As noted in Section 3.4.3 of the Quality Assurance Guidelines, PCF PEC Survey practices must share with their PEC Survey vendor the names and addresses of residential care facilities and assisted living facilities where 5 or more of their patients reside. Vendors should work with their practice clients to obtain this information prior to printing and mailing at the end of September. Practices can create this list of patients by searching for local residential care/assisted living facilities online or scanning through their patient address records.   

The PEC Survey vendor will be responsible for identifying patients residing at these facilities if they are sampled for the survey. These patients will receive their survey in a special envelope designed to catch the attention of facility staff and solicit proxy respondents. These patients also do not receive telephone follow-up due to the burden this causes facility staff. 

A First Edition newsletter article will remind practices about this requirement on August 31st, 2023. Please be sure to complete this important task for a successful data collection this fall! 

Vendors with questions should contact the PCF PECS Team via e-mail at or call 1-833-997-2715. Practices should contact PCF Support at or call 1-888-517-7753. 

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 Reminder: Requirements for Spanish Mail Survey Administration
folder_openSurvey Materialscalendar_todayPosted August 9, 2023

In Performance Year (PY) 2022, some PCF PEC Survey vendors misunderstood the protocol surrounding the mail survey questionnaire in Spanish. This email is a reminder of the requirements for mail survey administration in Spanish, as outlined in the Quality Assurance Guidelines (QAG) section 5.3

  • Both postcards are in English but a line in Spanish states that if they prefer to receive the questionnaire in Spanish, they should call the toll-free number. Vendors must honor these requests and send a Spanish questionnaire.  
  • The initial and non-response cover letters are to be printed double-sided with English on one side, Spanish on the other. 
  • The first questionnaire must be sent in English to all patients. A line in Spanish states that if they prefer to receive the questionnaire in Spanish, they should call the toll-free number. Vendors must honor these requests and send a Spanish questionnaire, at a minimum for the 2nd questionnaire mailing.  
  • The second questionnaire must be sent in Spanish to patients who are indicated as Spanish speakers on the sample file. The Spanish questionnaire mailing should include the double-sided English/Spanish cover letter for the second mailing. 

Some practices may serve a large population of patients whose preferred language is Spanish. Survey Vendors may submit an Exceptions Request Form (ERF) to send a Spanish survey questionnaire in the first mailing if there are a large number of patients who have indicated that Spanish is their preferred language in the sample file. Vendors should not send the first survey questionnaire in Spanish without an approved ERF. Please note that the PCF model is not in operation in Puerto Rico. 

Please review the QAG section 5.3 for the full description of Spanish survey administration. Vendors with questions should contact the PEC Survey Team at or call 1-833-997-2715.    

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 Working with Practice Clients to Support the PEC Survey
folder_openPractice Requirementscalendar_todayPosted August 1, 2023

Today, CMS sent all PCF practices an email that asks for their help to increase PEC Survey response rates. The email encourages practices to take the following steps to promote patient awareness of the survey this fall: 

  1. Send a Patient Portal Message in September using the language provided by CMS 
  2. Display the PCF PEC Survey Poster (available in small and large sizes) 
  3. Distribute PCF PEC Survey Patient FAQs (newly updated with official HHS letterhead) 
  4. Answer Patient Questions and Express Support for the Survey (referring to this resource for important guidelines about communicating with patients)  

We recommend that you follow up on this email and encourage your practice clients to take these important steps.  

CMS also asks that PEC Survey vendors work closely with their practice clients to ensure the success of the PEC Survey. We share some ideas here, but if you have had other successful ideas, we welcome suggestions. 

  • Ensure your practice clients have your Help Desk contact information. Share your Help Desk email address and toll-free number with practice clients and ask them to use the information to customize the poster and patient FAQs. Both the small poster and the FAQs can be distributed as handouts.  

    Please also explain to your client practices:  

    Why is it important to display the poster and FAQs? How can they help increase response rates and representation?  

    Displaying the poster and FAQs during the time when patients have eligible office visits (April through December) will increase recognition when surveys arrive at their homes. Patients will recall seeing the poster and receiving or reading the FAQs and know that the survey is legitimate. They are then more likely to participate. 

  • Send your practice clients an example of your survey mailing envelope. Show your practice clients what the survey mailing envelopes look like so that they can share that information with their patients. Tell them that this year, the survey will be mailed using Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) letterhead, so that patients won't mistake it for junk mail. Recognition of the survey mail materials could increase patient participation in the mail survey. Just remember, practices may not provide copies of the questionnaire or survey materials to patients. 
  • Let practices know what phone number their patients will be receiving PEC Survey calls from. Recognition of the phone number could increase the likelihood that patients will answer the survey phone follow up calls and participate in the survey. 
  • Communicate with your practice clients throughout the data collection period and afterwards. Your practice clients should be aware of the data collection schedule (when patients should expect to receive mail surveys or phone calls), when to expect to receive results from your organization, and how to interpret those results once received.  

Make sure to review the July 2023 Vendor Newsletter for other important steps that vendors should take this fall. CMS thanks you for your efforts to support the PEC Survey! Vendors with questions or suggestions should contact the PCF PECS Team via e-mail at or call 1-833-997-2715.  

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