Primary Care First Patient Experience of Care Survey
(PCF PEC Survey) Participation Overview for Practices


Register for login credentials on the PCF PEC Survey website using this link. Please note that practice registration is open from March 21 through June 30 of each performance year.


Review the PCF PEC Survey Practice Responsibilities at this link.


Register your practice site(s) by logging onto the website using the login credentials created in Step 1 above. Next, complete the Practice Site ID Registration Form for your practice(s) from your customized dashboard (under the Practice site tab). You can also refer to this Quick Link document for step-by-step instructions.


Sign a contract with a CMS-approved PCF PEC Survey vendor to conduct the survey. A list of the currently approved survey vendors is available here. Practices will receive an updated list that includes conditionally approved vendors in March and a final list of fully approved vendors in May of each year. The practice authorization window is open from March through the end of June. New practice sites are required to authorize a vendor; practice sites that have an existing vendor authorization are not required to take any action but may make changes during this time. CMS has adopted standardized survey protocols that allow for varying survey costs and ensured that the approved vendors are trained to implement these protocols consistently. However, CMS does not dictate the pricing for the approved survey vendors. You are encouraged to contact vendors for cost and service information, as vendors may differ.


Authorize your vendor. Once you have signed a contract with a vendor, your practice site(s) must authorize that survey vendor to collect and submit their PCF PEC Survey data. There is no authorization end date. Your vendor authorization will remain in place for the current and any future PCF PEC Surveys until you decide to change vendors. If you want to change vendors, you must indicate a new vendor and new start date for that vendor. CMS will not select and provide a patient sample for your practice site(s) unless you complete the vendor authorization form. Detailed steps for completing the online vendor authorization form are here.


Execute a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with your authorized vendor. HIPAA allows practice sites to release patient contact information to their agents for public health research. Survey vendors will be acting as agents of PCF practice sites. When a vendor is a business associate of a practice site, vendors inherit all of a practice’s HIPAA requirements with regard to data use and safeguarding. Therefore, each practice site must execute a BAA with their survey vendor. Part of the vendor authorization process (Step 5) includes an attestation affirming that you have a BAA in place with your chosen vendor. CMS will not release a practice site’s sample to their survey vendor without the BAA attestation.


Update vendor authorization if needed. Once you have submitted an authorization, it remains valid unless you change it. If you decide to switch vendors, you should edit your Survey Vendor Authorization on the PCF PEC Survey website. See this Quick Link for additional instructions. Please note that CMS does not recommend switching survey vendors once data collection has begun. CMS and their contractor RTI cannot be involved in business arrangements between vendors and practices. It is the responsibility of the practice to notify the vendor of any change in status or contract. Practice sites should follow standard PCF protocol for notifying PCF Support of mergers, splits or withdrawals by emailing


Submit an all-patient roster. Each June, practice sites must submit an all-patient roster of patients for the PCF PEC Survey to PCF Support via the PCF Portal. CMS will communicate detailed roster-related instructions and schedules via First Edition and PCF Connect. You should never submit a practice site’s all-patient roster to your vendor or on the PCF PEC survey website.


Notify vendor of residential care/assisted living facilities. Patients residing in residential care facilities or assisted living facilities are eligible for PCF and therefore eligible for the PCF PEC Survey. You must communicate to your practice site’s vendor the names and addresses of residential care facilities and assisted living facilities where patients reside. It is preferable if all such facilities can be identified, but at a minimum, you must identify all such facilities where five or more of your practice’s patients reside. To identify facilities, you may scan through your practice site’s patient’s addresses or may do a geographical search of nearby residential care/assisted living facilities. Once identified, the vendor will treat these patients differently in the survey. These patients’ facilities receive a special envelope that is designed to catch the attention of facility staff and solicit proxy respondents. They also do not receive telephone follow-up because of the burden this causes facility staff.


Display the PEC Survey poster and waiting room FAQs. CMS provides downloadable survey posters and FAQs that may be customized with the Help Desk contact information for your practice site’s vendor. We recommend printing these materials and displaying them in visible areas of the practice beginning 6 months before the survey. Download files are available on PCF Connect and on the Survey and Protocols tab of the PCF PEC Survey website.


Avoid influencing patients in any way about how to answer the PCF PEC Survey. For example, practices can let patients know that they may be contacted about the survey but may not hand out any information to patients about how to answer the survey. Please see the section “Communicate with patients about the survey in accordance with CMS specifications” in Responsibilities of PCF Practice Sites for the Patient Experience of Care Survey (PECS).


Review the survey data submission reports to ensure the data were submitted by your survey vendor on time and without errors. To access these reports, click on the Data Submission Report link under the “For Practice Sites” menu tab after logging into the website.


Consider not administering the PCF PEC Survey in conjunction with other surveys. To avoid imposing on patients, CMS strongly encourages practice sites to refrain from conducting other patient surveys from 4 weeks before the PCF PEC Survey period through the active surveying period.1 CMS-sponsored surveys are exempt from this guidance. In addition, CMS strongly encourages practice sites to refrain from conducting census surveys. Census surveys ensure that some respondents are surveyed at least twice and will increase survey burden on respondents, thereby lowering response rates on the PCF PEC Survey and on the practice site’s other survey(s).


Monitor First Edition and PCF Connect for news and updates about the PCF PEC Survey throughout the year. Please contact PCF Support with any questions or concerns by email at or by phone at 1-888-517-7753.

1 See data collection schedule on PCF PEC Survey home page for specific dates.