Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M. Eng.


Industrial Engineering

Committee Chair

Depuy, Gail W.


Medical appointments and schedules


Personnel scheduling is a problem faced by many organizations in the healthcare industry, particularly in rapidly developing outpatient centers. The task of creating a schedule that adequately covers patient demand while satisfying the preferences of employees, observing work regulations, and ensuring a fair distribution of work is highly complex. Even though this highly complex task directly affects measures such as patient waiting time and employee satisfaction, many organizations still resort to the traditional and cumbersome manual solution methods. A large segment of prior research on personnel scheduling in healthcare focuses on nurse rostering and the development of automated tools to aid in scheduling. The drawbacks to these methods include the lack of generality and the need for specialized software packages and training. The aim of this study is the development of an effective, low cost, and uncomplicated heuristic tool to aid schedulers in outpatient centers. Solution methodologies used by previous researchers in problems such as nurse rostering and aircrew rostering are adapted to the particular problem of physician scheduling in mixed specialty outpatient clinics. The developed heuristic tool obtains an initial feasible solution using a greedy algorithm and then uses the simulated annealing metaheuristic to improve the solution, which is a measure of physician satisfaction. The heuristic tool developed in this study was tested using eight randomly generated data sets to model 45 unique cases. The heuristic found the optimal solution in 19 of the 45 tested cases. The average difference from the optimal physician satisfaction rating in the other 26 cases was 0.35%.