Fields Healthcare Research is an Approved Primary Care First Vendor

Primary Care First (PCF) Patient Experience of Care Survey (PECS) Survey Overview

PY 2021 PCF PECS Survey Timeline Date
PCF PECS vendor training 3/24/2021 and 3/25/2021
Vendor Quality Assurance Plan (QAP) submission deadline 4/16/2021
List of fully approved PCF vendors is published by CMS 5/28/2021
PCF Practices authorize survey vendors 6/3/2021 - 6/30/2021
Patient sample download by authorized survey vendors 9/13/2021
PCF PECS Data Collection: 9/28/2021 - 12/21/2021
  • Teaser postcard mailed
9/28/2021
  • Vendor Help Desk open
9/29/2021 - 12/21/2021
  • 1st  Questionnaire mailed
10/5/2021
  • Reminder/Thank you postcard
10/12/2021
  • 2nd  Questionnaire mailed
11/2/2021
  • Telephone follow-up (CATI)
11/30/2021 - 12/21/2021
Vendors conduct internal data quality assurance and prepare data submission 12/22/2021 - 1/17/2022
Data submission deadline 1/18/2022

PCF-PECS 2021 Sampling Rules

Providers in Practice Site Patients CMS will Sample Target Number of Completed Surveys
1 296 105
2 350 124
3 450 159
4–9 500 177
10–13 550 195
14–19 650 230
20 or more 800 264

The Primary Care First (PCF) Patient Experience of Care Survey (PECS) (CAHPS® with PCF supplemental items) is designed to measure the experiences of people receiving care from Practice Sites participating in the Primary Care First (PCF) model. Beginning in 2021, the PCF PECS is conducted for PCF Practice Sites by survey vendors approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Primary Care First (PCF) is a 5-year model aiming to improve quality, improve patient experience of care, and reduce expenditures. Clinical quality, utilization, and patient experience measures are used to assess quality of care delivered at the practice and PCF practice sites must meet standards that reflect quality care and model requirements in order to be eligible for a positive performance-based adjustment (PBA). The measures were selected to be actionable, clinically meaningful, and aligned with CMS’s broader quality measurement strategy.

The Patient Experience of Care Survey (PECS), which is based on the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Clinician and Groups Survey (CG), is also required for all practice sites. Positive patient experience reflects high-quality care. Positive patient experience is also associated with higher levels of patient adherence, improved clinical outcomes, and lower utilization of inpatient and emergency department services. The designers of the PCF questionnaire specifically included CAHPS questions that measure whether patients observe providers and practice sites engaging in behaviors connected to PCF objectives, such as use of a care team with 24/7 access to the patient’s EHR and educating patients about how to get emergency care outside of practice hours.

Practice Site Requirements for PCF-PECS

Payment Year 2021 Schedule for PCF-PECS

CMS asks that providers display PECS posters April-December of 2021. This will allow time for patients to see the poster and become familiar with the PECS. Rostering for PECS takes place in early summer 2021. The rosters that practices provide are submitted online through the PCF portal using a template. Health IT vendors can support practices in the creation of their patient rosters. More information about roster submissions will be distributed to practices and health IT vendors closer to the roster submission period. The CMS contractor will select the survey sample. The PECS data collection begins in September 2021 and ends in December 2021. Patient responses to the survey determine the practice score. This score is used to evaluate the practice's strengths and needs in providing patient centered care. Practice scores will be available in the PCF Portal in Spring 2022. The survey vendor will be able to give survey results faster, before CMS’ PEC score report is available.

Participation

The general Primary Care First payment model option is designed for primary care practices with advanced primary care capabilities that are prepared to accept increased financial risk in exchange for flexibility and potential rewards based on practice performance. Eligible applicants are primary care practices that:

  • Include primary care practitioners (MD, DO, CNS, NP, and PA), certified in internal medicine, general medicine, geriatric medicine, family medicine, and hospice and palliative medicine.
  • Provide primary care health services to a minimum of 125 attributed Medicare beneficiaries at a particular location
  • Have primary care services account for at least 70% of the practices’ collective billing based on revenue. In the case of a multi-specialty practice, 70% of the practice’s eligible primary care practitioners’ combined revenue must come from primary care services.
  • Have experience with value-based payment arrangements or payments based on cost, quality, and/or utilization performance such as shared savings, performance-based incentive payments, and episode-based payments, and/or alternative to fee-for-service payments such as full or partial capitation.
  • Use 2015 Edition Certified Electronic Health Record Technology (CEHRT), support data exchange with other providers and health systems via Application Programming Interface (API), and connect to their regional health information exchange (HIE).
  • Attest via questions in the Practice Application to a limited set of advanced primary care delivery capabilities, such as 24/7 access to a practitioner or nurse call line and empanelment of patients to a practitioner or care team.
  • Can meet the requirements of the Primary Care First Participation Agreement

Eligible practitioners (that each practice applicant must identify by NPI in its application) are those in internal medicine, general medicine, geriatric medicine, family medicine, and/or hospice and palliative medicine. CMS may reject an application on the basis of the results of a program integrity screening.

CMS will also encourage other payers – including Medicare Advantage Plans, commercial health insurers, Medicaid managed care plans, and State Medicaid agencies – to align payment, quality measurement, and data sharing with CMS in support of Primary Care First practices.

PCF-PECS 2021 Vendor Schedule

Activity Performance Year 1 Timing
PCF PECS Vendors mail teaser postcard to all sampled patients September 28, 2021
PCF PECS Vendors begin operating inbound patient-facing Help Desk September 29, 2021
PCF PECS Vendors mail Questionnaire 1 to all sampled patients October 5, 2021
PCF PECS Vendors mail Thank you/reminder postcard to all sampled patients October 12, 2021
PCF PECS Vendors submit interim mail data file October 26, 2021
PCF PECS Vendors mail Questionnaire 2 to sampled patients who have not responded November 2, 2021
PCF PECS Vendors start Telephone Follow-Up, among sampled patients who have not responded November 30, 2021
PCF PECS Vendors supply documentation of interviewer training, including HIPAA training December 8, 2021
PCF PECS Vendors submit telephone interviewer recordings December 8, 2021
PCF PECS Vendors submit interim mail/CATI data file December 8, 2021
PCF PECS Vendors end Telephone Follow-up and close Help Desk December 21, 2021
Last day to receive questionnaires by mail. PCF PECS vendors must discard questionnaires received after this date December 21, 2021
PCF PECS vendors submit patient data to RTI PECS team January 18, 2022
PCF PECS practices may remove posters and Waiting Room FAQs January 19, 2022
For more information about PCF-PECS and Fields Healthcare Research, please call Ken Fields at 800-748-0830, or email Ken@FieldsResearch.com.
PCF-PECS, Official Site: pcfpecs.org
For direct Email communications with CMS regarding the PCF-PECS survey: pcfpecs@rti.org