Hospital diagnostic facilities, such as magentic resonance imaging centers, typically provide service to several diverse patient groups: outpatients, who are scheduled in advance; inpatients, whose demands are generated randomly during the day; and emergency patients, who must be served as soon as posssible. Our analysis focuses on two inter-related tasks: designing the outpatient appoitnment schedule, and establishing dynamic priority rules for admitting patients into service.
We formulate the problem of managing patient demand for diagnostic service as a finite horizon dynamic program and identify properties of the optimal policies. Using empirical data from a major urban hospital, we conduct numerical studies to develop insights on the sensitivity of the optimal policies to the various cost and probability parameters and to evaluate the performance of several heuristic rules for appointment acceptance and patient scheduling.
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Green, Linda, Sergei Savin, and Ben Wang. "Managing Patient Service in a Diagnostic Medical Facility." Operations Research 54, no. 1 (March 2006): 11-25.