“To Guarantee Quality, We First Have to Measure it”How to Improve Treatment Processes and Optimize Treatment Results


The German hospital group Schön Klinik is a pioneer in results-oriented patient care. Managing Director Dr. Markus Hamm explains how the company verifies treatment quality, and what results it achieves through this.

Challenge: Quality-oriented treatment is playing an increasingly important, global role in competition between hospitals and in the payment of services. Appropriate indicators and evaluation tools are needed to measure and verify treatment results.
Solution: Over the last few decades, German hospital group Schön Klinik has developed an extensive system of indicators that document results over the entire course of a treatment.
Results: Thanks to systematic quality measurements and quality feedback, Schön Klinik has continuously improved its treatment processes and optimized its treatment results. The group is one of the most profitable hospital operators in Germany.

Dr. Markus Hamm, Managing Director of Schön Klinik in Germany, explains the hospital’s quality indicators that document treatment results over time.
Dr. Markus Hamm, Managing Director of Schön Klinik, Germany

Dr. Hamm, how do you measure treatment quality?
Hamm: We measure it in three dimensions: medical treatment results, patient safety, and patient satisfaction. In other words, we are concerned with both the objective and subjective aspects of treatment – the result as well as the experience.

How did you develop your approach?
Hamm: Schön Klinik has concerned itself with questions of quality since the 1980s. The idea initially came from psychosomatic treatment. The question asked back then was which treatment truly improved quality of life from the patient’s point of view. We feel that the crucial point is not how well this or that process works in our hospitals, but rather how patients actually benefit from the treatment and whether their real needs are taken into account.

Can you give an example?
Hamm: In psychosomatic medicine, for instance, we measure how many patients who come to us with depression regain their drive and vitality through our therapy. With patients who have a herniated disc or an artificial knee joint, on the other hand, we ask whether surgery has made them mobile again, pain-free in the long term, and able to go back to work.


Schön Klinik, which was founded in 1985, is a family-owned group of private hospitals with 17 facilities across Germany. The group specializes in psychosomatic medicine, orthopedics, and neurology. It generates 80 percent of its earnings in these three areas. In 2015, its sales were nearly €750 million. Annual growth over the last ten years has stood at between 8 and 10 percent. Schön Klinik pursues a strategy of results-oriented treatment and conducts systematic quality measurements in its hospitals and clinics.1   


Martin Lindner is an award-winning science writer based in Berlin, Germany. After completing his medical studies and a doctoral thesis on the history of medicine, he went into journalism. His articles have appeared in many major German and Swiss newspapers and magazines.