Mariia Anapolska: Robust Appointment Scheduling in Hospitals


As the demand for health care services increases each year, the need for efficient management of health care systems becomes more and more apparent. Hospitals are under tremendous cost pressure and must achieve a balance between economic efficiency and patient-focused treatment.

My research considers the appointment scheduling problem within a hospital. The problem aims to maximize the utilization of the hospital resources while minimizing the patients’ inconveniences such as waiting time for treatment or short-term cancellations. In contrast to the emergency patients, the admissions and treatments for elective patients are set in advance and can hence be scheduled efficiently and providently. However, this potential is not used in practice; instead, the hospital staff sticks to intuitive scheduling strategies, which are easy to implement but suboptimal. In addition, the uncertain and fluctuating patient demand and the presence of emergency patients require the schedule to be highly adaptable, hence robust and stable solutions are needed.

The aim of this research project is to consider the problem form the combinatorial point of view. We formalize and investigate the complexity of the appointment scheduling problem both on the tactical and operative level. Further, we design robust appointment scheduling systems that manage the available capacity efficiently and keep the utilization of the costly resources like operating rooms as high as possible. The systems should consider both the varying patient demand and the capacity of all related hospital resources (e.g. wards). We investigate the payoff between simplicity and efficacy of scheduling strategies.