Scheduling in Complex Healthcare Environments

Abstract

Since early 1960s, scheduling problems in health care have been a point of attraction for industrial engineers and operations researchers who utilized a wide range of modeling and solution techniques in the area. Despite years of focus, scheduling in healthcare remains a challenging problem. The purpose of our research is to identify areas where complexities of healthcare environment causes scheduling operation to be critical and open to improvement; and designing improved systems using industrial engineering approaches to enhance existing practices. Our current projects focus on three identified problems: (1) care team co-scheduling, (2) co-availability problem, and (3) downstream linked scheduling. Co-availability problem addresses the issue of simultaneous critical resource availability; while care team co-scheduling focuses on teamwork concept among caregivers as a design parameter. Third problem deals with scheduling in healthcare settings where complications such as downstream dependency, linked resources, probabilistic flow, and stochastic characteristics are present. Several mathematical programming techniques are being applied for modeling these problems while heuristics and simulation algorithms are being utilized for solving purposes. With all of the above projects our aim is to advance care coordination with a focus on continuity of care to achieve safety, timeliness, efficiency, and patient centeredness.