In the German statutory health insurance system, quality healthcare is an imperative – healthcare must correspond to current medical knowledge. The central decision-making body, the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA), uses directives to regulate quality standards and instruments to ensure compliance. The Institute for Quality Assurance and Transparency in Health Care (IQTIG) supports the G‑BA in this task with independent scientific recommendations. A central task of the institute is the development of quality indicators based on billing data, patient records, and patient surveys.
With regard to instruments for the improvement of quality, the IQTIG distinguishes between improvement instruments, instruments based on selection decisions, and instruments based on incentives for providers. Quality improvement requires quality management and intrinsic motivation on the part of the providers. However, due to perverse incentives, intrinsic motivation and thus quality improvement alone are not always sufficient and must be supplemented by extrinsic incentives and other instruments. In particular, instruments enabling quality-oriented physician and hospital choice have not yet been implemented in Germany. The quality information required to enable patients to make such choices does not yet exist and should be based on billing data and patient surveys. Further, such quality information should be presented as simply and understandably as possible on online comparison platforms.
To ensure high-quality healthcare, the various instruments for improving quality must be coordinated with one another and aligned with a system of healthcare targets. Such a system of overarching healthcare targets allows the limited resources to be focused on those areas in which the need for action is greatest.