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Journal of Healthcare Engineering
Volume 6, Issue 2, Pages 259-280
http://dx.doi.org/10.1260/2040-2295.6.2.259
Research Article

Scheduling Patients’ Appointments: Allocation of Healthcare Service Using Simulation Optimization

Ping-Shun Chen,1 Rex Aurelius C. Robielos,2 Philline Kate Vera C. Palaña,2 Pierre Lorenzo L. Valencia,2 and Gary Yu-Hsin Chen1

1Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Chung Yuan Christian University, Chung Li District, Taoyuan City, 320, Taiwan
2School of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, Mapúa Institute of Technology, Intramuros, Manila 1002, Philippines

Received 1 November 2014; Accepted 1 March 2015

Copyright © 2015 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

In the service industry, scheduling medical procedures causes difficulties for both patients and management. Factors such as fluctuations in customer demand and service time affect the appointment scheduling systems’ performance in terms of, for example, patients’ waiting time, idle time of resources, and total cost/profits. This research implements four appointment scheduling policies, i.e., constant arrival, mixed patient arrival, three-section pattern arrival, and irregular arrival, in an ultrasound department of a hospital in Taiwan. By simulating the four implemented policies’ optimization procedures, optimal or near-optimal solutions can be obtained for patients per arrival, patients’ inter-arrival time, and the number of the time slots for arrived patients. Furthermore, three objective functions are tested, and the results are discussed. The managerial implications and discussions are summarized to demonstrate how outcomes can be useful for hospital managers seeking to allocate their healthcare service capacities.