Public and patient involvement in social and health care has proceeded in many civil societies. Depending on the legislations on national and community levels, citizens and patients have a greater say in shaping social and health care. In Germany, the patient involvement by self-help organizations at the macro level (national level and level of federal states) has significantly developed over the last ten years. At the meso level, however, the patient involvement is neither such far nor such systematically developed. The concept of self-help friendliness (SHF) in health care is a patient centred model that allows the development and implementation of patient participation in different health care institutions: hospitals, ambulatory medical care, public health institutions, rehabilitation facilities etc. In a series of projects on SHF we have (1) analysed the needs and wishes of self-help groups for cooperation with health care professionals as well as their experience, (2) gathered facilitators and barriers concerning the cooperation between self-help groups and hospitals, (3) developed a framework concept for SHF in hospitals including eight quality criteria for measuring SHF, and (4) implemented the framework of SHF in about 40 health care institutions (www.selbsthilfefreundlichkeit.de). Further projects followed: development of an instrument for measuring SHF in hospitals, integration of SHF-criteria in quality management systems in inpatient care as well as in out-patient care, and transferring SHF to a) medical ambulatory care, b) public health departments, and c) rehabilitation facilities. Considering advantages and shortcomings of the approach, we can summarize that implementing SHF is feasible, transferable and a helpful measure for promoting patient centeredness in health care.