Integrated Capacity and Appointment Scheduling Strategy for Access Time Management

Carrie Ka Yuk Lin

Abstract

A common strategic decision problem faced by service providers is seasonal demand and limited resources. This paper proposes an integrated scheduling strategy of service capacity and patient appointments over a multi-day planning horizon. Demand is characterized by priority classes with seasonal variation. Short-term capacity is allowed to vary while the total capacity is kept constant, or within certain limits. System performances are measured from both demand and provider perspectives, including access time to an appointment, capacity utilization and completion time. Combining optimization approaches of integer programming and scheduling, an optimal capacity schedule and appointments with the smallest total and range of access times for each priority class is developed. Experiments are designed using published data on annual demand, capacity, costs in public out-patient clinics, and seasonality data in literature. Results indicate higher capacity utilization, shorter completion time converted into relative cost savings, and significant reduction in non-urgent patient access times.