Dynamic appointment scheduling with patient preferences and choices

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

19 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)700-717
Journal / PublicationIndustrial Management and Data Systems
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to maximize the expected revenue of the outpatient department considering patient preferences and choices. Design/methodology/approach - Patient preference refers to the preferred physician and time slot that patients hold before asking for appointments. Patient choice is the appointment decision the patient made after receiving a set of options from the scheduler. The relationship between patient choices and preferences is explored. A dynamic programming (DP) model is formulated to optimize appointment scheduling with patient preferences and choices. The DP model is transformed to an equivalent linear programming (LP) model. A decomposition method is proposed to eliminate the number of variables. A column generation algorithm is used to resolve computation problem of the resulting LP model. Findings - Numerical studies show the benefit of multiple options provided, and that the proposed algorithm is efficient and accurate. The effects of the booking horizon and arrival rates are studies. A policy about how to make use of the information of patient preferences is compared to other naive polices. Experiments show that more revenue can be expected if patient preferences and choices are considered. Originality/value - This paper proposes a framework for appointment scheduling problem in outpatient departments. It is concluded that more revenue can be achieved if more choices are provided for patients to choose from and patient preferences are considered. Additionally, an appointment decision can be made timely after receiving patient preference information. Therefore, the proposed model and policies are convenient tools applicable to an outpatient department.

Research Area(s)

  • Appointment scheduling, Approximate algorithm, Dynamic programming, Patient preferences