Outpatient appointment scheduling with unpunctual patients

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

15 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1982-2002
Journal / PublicationInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number5
Online published16 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


This study examines the design of appointment scheduling policies with considerations of not only the conventional factors, for example, the random consultation time and multiple patient types, but also of a new factor, particularly, patient unpunctuality, that is, one patient may arrive earlier or later than the appointment time. Patient unpunctuality negatively affects the appointment scheduling system, for example, such behaviour, reduces provider productivity and clinical efficiency, increases health care costs, and limits the ability of a clinic to serve its patients population by reducing the clinic’s effective capacity. In this study, while considering patient unpunctuality, we first introduce an analytical model and show the optimality of a fixed-interval policy for a simplified two-patient model. Motivated by the result, we propose an easy-to-implement heuristic policy with a simple structure using a simulation framework to improve the performance of the appointment scheduling system. The simulation result shows that our policy is overwhelmingly preponderant in current practice. We also measure the effect of patient unpunctuality and other factors. Actual data are used to add realism to the input parameters, and practical guidelines are developed for appointment scheduling.

Research Area(s)

  • appointment scheduling, heuristic policy, patient unpunctuality, simulation, within-day scheduling