The increasing burden of chronic diseases in the United States presents a major challenge to the nation’s primary care systems, so improving the efficacy and efficiency of patient education is an important goal. Understanding the current perspectives, practices, and needs of primary care providers should guide innovation towards this end. As a part of the authors’ ongoing quality improvement work, a short internet survey was an effective method of enhancing this understanding in one health care system. With a response rate of 24.6 %, the survey revealed that primary care waiting rooms in the health system studied are not conceived of or used by providers as spaces to engage patients in health education. To change this, providers suggested using both printed and technological methods for delivering health information, primarily related to medications, diabetes, and healthy lifestyle practices. Common barriers to improvement cited by providers included diverse language and literacy backgrounds in the patient population, as well as difficulty sustaining change due to infrastructural and administrative barriers. These results suggest steps for development, implementation, and investigation of new educational interventions for patients in the local primary care context.