PCF PEC Survey – Proxy Protocol
folder_openOther Announcementscalendar_todayPosted September 29, 2022

As described in Section 5.4 of the Quality Assurance Guidelines, the use of proxies is permitted for the PCF Patient Experience of Care (PEC) Survey. The survey instrument allows patients who are unable to complete the survey to have someone take the survey on their behalf (known as a “proxy”) or help the patient with completing the survey on their own (known as a “helper”). Helpers and proxies typically help patients who are too ill to take the survey, who have physical or cognitive limitations, or who have language barriers. A proxy should be someone like a family member or friend who is familiar with the patient’s care. Note that staff or clinicians at the practice site may not serve as proxies or helpers. 

As shown on the final question of the survey, proxies and helpers can: 

  • Read questions. 
  • Write down the answer the patient gave. 
  • Answer the questions for the patient. 
  • Translate the questions into the patient’s language (including over the phone).
  • Help in other ways. 

Proxies may NOT be used if the patient is: 

  • Deceased. 
  • Under 18 years old. 
  • Unavailable/out of the country. 
  • Institutionalized (nursing home/jail/prison). 
  • Refusal. 

Mail Materials 

To raise awareness of the proxy/helper option, all PCF PEC Survey letters, postcards, the poster, and Frequently Asked Questions clearly state that someone can help the patient take the survey: “If needed, someone like a family member or friend can help you by recording your answers, reading the survey to you, or translating it into your language. However, if you cannot respond because of poor health or cognitive or physical limitations, someone like a family member or friend knowledgeable about your care can take the survey on your behalf.”

This statement is translated into 10 different languages on the survey poster, which practices display in their waiting rooms. 

The Residential Care Facility envelope is designed to draw the attention of potential proxies with this statement on the outside of the envelope: “Please ensure the resident or their loved one sees this survey about visits to their primary care provider.” 

Help Desk and Telephone Interviews 

Survey vendors must ensure that telephone interviewers and Help Desk staff stay attuned to people declining survey participation because of the patient’s health, disability, or language. These barriers can be overcome with a proxy or a helper, which should be encouraged and facilitated by survey vendor personnel.

The CATI scripts include language for proxy interviews. Please ensure that telephone interviewers follow the script as written to correctly select a proxy respondent and administer a proxy interview. 

For situations where the respondent is mentally or physically incapable, including those who are hearing impaired with no TTY service and a proxy is not available, vendors should code the case as 180- Ineligible: Mentally or Physically Incapacitated. For cases where the respondent speaks a language other than English or Spanish and a proxy is not available, vendors should code the case as 170- Language Barrier

Thank you for your attention to these important efforts to increase patient participation in the PCF PEC Survey. Vendors with questions should contact the PCF PECS Team via email at or call 1-833-997-2715. 

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5 Days Until the Start of the PY 2022 PCF PEC Survey!
folder_openOther Announcementscalendar_todayPosted September 22, 2022

Data collection for the Performance Year (PY) 2022 PCF Patient Experience of Care (PEC) Survey begins Tuesday, September 27, 2022. 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 26, 2022 – Start of mail data collection/virtual site visits 

Tuesday, September 27, 2022 –Vendor Help Desk open  

Monday, October 24, 2022 – 1st interim data set submission due 

Monday, November 21, 2022 – Start of telephone follow-up & interviewer monitoring sessions 

Tuesday, November 29, 2022 – 2nd interim data set submission due 

Sunday, December 18, 2022 – All mail and telephone data collection ends 

Tuesday, January 17, 2023 – Final data set submission due 

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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Required Address Verifications Prior to Data Collection
folder_openOther Announcementscalendar_todayPosted September 14, 2022

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. 

Vendors with questions should contact the PCF PECS Team via e-mail 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 12, 2022

Virtual site visits for PCF PEC Survey vendors with active PY22 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 may consist of 1 to 2 half-day sessions throughout the field period. Separate sessions may be scheduled during the mail and telephone periods of data collection.  

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 PECS team will 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. After the pre-site visit meeting, vendors will be sent a Site Visit Agenda specifying the documents or other resources the vendor is expected to present during the video conference calls. Vendors are encouraged to provide a presentation to help describe their survey processes. 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 such documents/resources 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. No personally identifiable information (PII) or protected health information (PHI) about sampled patients will be shared 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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PCF PEC Survey Sample File Will Be Ready 9/9
folder_openSample Downloadcalendar_todayPosted September 1, 2022

Sample files for the Performance Year (PY) 2022 PCF PEC Survey will be available for download Friday, September 9, 2022, 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 Friday, September 9th, 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. 

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 of 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. 

Vendors must email the PCF PECS Team within 24 hours of downloading the sample file and attest that: 

  • They have downloaded the sample file. 
  • They have reviewed the sample file and compared it to their Vendor Authorization Report and their own records. 
  • The file contains sample for each practice with which they have a contract to administer the survey in PY 2022. 
  • The file does not contain sample for any practice with which they do not have a current contract. 

Please review Sections 4.5 and 4.6 of the Quality Assurance Guidelines for more information about sample file protocols 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 9/2 and 9/5 for the Labor Day Holiday
folder_openOther Announcementscalendar_todayPosted August 30, 2022

RTI International will be closed on Friday, September 2, and Monday, September 5, 2022, for the Labor Day holiday. The PCF PECS Team will respond to email and telephone inquiries that are received on those dates after RTI re-opens on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. 

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 22, 2022

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 their patients reside. All facilities where 5 or more patients reside should be identified. Vendors should work with their practice clients to obtain this information prior to printing and mailing at the end of September. Vendors should let practices know how they would like to receive this information. Practices can create this list 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 25th. 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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PCF Practices Asked to Display PEC Survey Posters and Waiting Room FAQs
folder_openOther Announcementscalendar_todayPosted August 12, 2022

The 2022 PCF PEC Survey Poster and Waiting Room FAQs are available on PCF Connect and the PEC Survey website. PCF practices were asked to print and display the poster and FAQs in a prominent area of their waiting room by the end of March, which corresponds to 6 months prior to the survey start. Practices received this information in the March 10th and 24th editions of the PCF First Edition email newsletter, and will also be reminded in the September 8th edition of the newsletter. 

As PEC Survey vendors know, the survey has a 6-month lookback period, meaning that patients are asked about an office visit they had within the past 6 months. The poster has the same survey image as the survey envelope, postcard and survey cover, helping to reinforce a cohesive survey brand. Displaying the poster helps make patients aware of the survey and establish legitimacy, which in turn leads to higher response rates for practices. 

Practices should customize the materials to include their survey vendor’s Help Desk contact information: 

Customizable PEC Survey Poster: 5x11 and 17x22 

Customizable PEC Survey Waiting Room FAQs 

As stated in Section of the Quality Assurance Guidelines, “Survey vendors must notify their client practice sites of the telephone number and email address of their Help Desk as soon as the number is operational.” Please also communicate to your client practices why it is important to display the poster and waiting room FAQs and how it can help increase response rates and representation. 

CMS also suggests practices make patients aware of the PCF PEC Survey by sending a message through their patient portal in September. The recommended message is available here and was shared with practices via the First Edition newsletter on August 11th. 

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

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PEC Survey Reports for PY2021 Have Been Distributed to Practices
folder_openOther Announcementscalendar_todayPosted August 2, 2022

The Performance Year (PY) 2021 PCF Patient Experience of Care (PEC) Survey reports were released to practices in the PCF Practice Portal on August 1, 2022. All Cohort 1 practices that participated in the PEC Survey have received these reports detailing practice performance. In addition to overall PEC survey summary and domain-level scores for PY 2021, the report presents the practice's performance on each of the individual items in the PY 2021 PCF PEC Survey, as well as the average scores within their region and across all PCF practices.  

Additionally, CMS has released an accompanying on-demand webinar that provides an overview and discussion of every section of the PCF PEC Survey report. The webinar also describes how practices may implement changes based on their results.  

Practices who have questions about their PEC Survey report, their scores, or the accompanying webinar should contact PCF Support via e-mail at or call 1-888-517-7753.  

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PCF PECS Semiannual Newsletter – July 2022 Edition
folder_openPECS Newslettercalendar_todayPosted July 25, 2022

The Primary Care First (PCF) Patient Experience of Care Survey (PECS) Team has published the July 2022 edition of the PCF PECS Semiannual Newsletter. As a reminder, this newsletter is a way to provide survey vendors with helpful PCF PECS information.

The newsletter is posted on the PCF PECS website and updated every January and July. You can navigate to the July 2022 newsletter located under the General Information tab on the PCF PECS website.

The newsletter does not replace any source of information currently on the PCF PECS website; instead, it highlights important information for readers. We encourage you to visit the PCF PECS website for more information on the items mentioned in this newsletter. Please continue to monitor the PCF PECS website for updates and announcements.

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

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