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National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR)

Strengths of Provider Surveys
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Provider surveys draw on the records of care. They offer many advantages over interviews:
  • They come from the records of care and consequently summarize the observations and conclusions of medical personnel--physicians, nurses and technicians.
  • They include the results of clinical tests
  • They are contemporaneous with reported conditions and do not rely on memory typically a limitation of survey interviews.

Provider surveys also have a number of limitations:
  • Provider surveys almost always involve compiling information from the records maintained by health care providers.
  • The quality of compilation procedures and efforts to standardize diverse sources are key elements contributing to the validity and usefulness of the data.
  • The records of care are compiled to record specific transactions—the observations of a case that presents in a medical provider’s offices—and typically do not follow a structured protocol.  As such, provider surveys abstract structured data from an unstructured source.
  • Stated directly—these surveys cannot summarize observations that are not recorded by medical staff as a byproduct of the service they provide.
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