• Due time driven surgery scheduling

      Samudra, Michael; Demeulemeester, Erik; Cardoen, Brecht; Vansteenkiste, N.; Rademakers, Frank (Health Care Management Science, 2017)
      In many hospitals there are patients who receive surgery later than what is medically indicated. In one of Europe's largest hospitals, the University Hospital Leuven, this is the case for approximately every third patient. Serving patients late cannot always be avoided as a highly utilized OR department will sometimes suffer capacity shortage, occasionally leading to unavoidable delays in patient care. Nevertheless, serving patients late is a problem as it exposes them to an increased health risk and hence should be avoided whenever possible. In order to improve the current situation, the delay in patient scheduling had to be quantified and the responsible mechanism, the scheduling process, had to be better understood. Drawing from this understanding, we implemented and tested realistic patient scheduling methods in a discrete event simulation model. We found that it is important to model non-elective arrivals and to include elective rescheduling decisions made on surgery day itself. Rescheduling ensures that OR related performance measures, such as overtime, will only loosely depend on the chosen patient scheduling method. We also found that capacity considerations should guide actions performed before the surgery day such as patient scheduling and patient replanning. This is the case as those scheduling strategies that ensure that OR capacity is efficiently used will also result in a high number of patients served within their medically indicated time limit. An efficient use of OR capacity can be achieved, for instance, by serving patients first come, first served. As applying first come, first served might not always be possible in a real setting, we found it is important to allow for patient replanning.
    • Scheduling operating rooms: Achievements, challenges and pitfalls

      Samudra, Michael; Van Riet, Carla; Demeulemeester, Erik; Cardoen, Brecht; Vansteenkiste, Nancy; Rademakers, Frank (Journal of Scheduling, 2016)
      In hospitals, the operating room (OR) is a particularly expensive facility and thus efficient scheduling is imperative. This can be greatly supported by using advanced methods that are discussed in the academic literature. In order to help researchers and practitioners to select new relevant articles, we classify the recent OR planning and scheduling literature into tables regarding patient type, used performance measures, decisions made, OR up- and downstream facilities, uncertainty, research methodology and testing phase. Based on these classifications, we identify trends and promising topics. Additionally, we recognize three common pitfalls that hamper the adoption of research results by stakeholders: the lack of a clear choice of authors on whether to target researchers (contributing advanced methods) or practitioners (providing managerial insights), the use of ill-fitted performance measures in models and the failure to understandably report on the hospital setting and method-related assumptions. We provide specific guidelines that help to avoid these pitfalls. First, we show how to build up an article based on the choice of the target group (i.e., researchers or practitioners). Making a clear distinction between target groups impacts the problem setting, the research task, the reported findings, and the conclusions. Second, we discuss points that need to be considered by researchers when deciding on the used performance measures. Third, we list the assumptions that need to be included in articles in order to enable readers to decide whether the presented research is relevant to them.