An integrated approach for scheduling health care activities in a hospital
To effectively utilise hospital beds, operating rooms (OR) and other treatment spaces, it is necessary to precisely plan patient admissions and treatments in advance. As patient treatment and recovery times are unequal and uncertain, this is not easy. In response a sophisticated flexible job-shop scheduling (FJSS) model is introduced, whereby patients, beds, hospital wards and health care activities are respectively treated as jobs, single machines, parallel machines and operations. Our approach is novel because an entire hospital is describable and schedulable in one integrated approach. The scheduling model can be used to recompute timings after deviations, delays, postponements and cancellations. It also includes advanced conditions such as activity and machine setup times, transfer times between activities, blocking limitations and no wait conditions, timing and occupancy restrictions, buffering for robustness, fixed activities and sequences, release times and strict deadlines. To solve the FJSS problem, constructive algorithms and hybrid meta-heuristics have been developed. Our numerical testing shows that the proposed solution techniques are capable of solving problems of real world size. This outcome further highlights the value of the scheduling model and its potential for integration into actual hospital information systems.