Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M. Eng.


Industrial Engineering

Committee Chair

Evans, Gerald W.

Author's Keywords

Scheduling; Overbooking; Walk-in; Healthcare; Appointment


Medical appointments and schedules--Data processing; Medical appointments and schedules--Mathematical models; Scheduling--Computer programs; Medical offices--Data processing


In order to allow quality healthcare to be available to more people, healthcare must be as affordable as possible. Ideally this will be done through the elimination of the waste that is built into the current healthcare system. One area that is ready for waste reduction is the manner in which family practice doctors’ offices and hospitals schedule patients. Despite hospitals being incredibly sophisticated and employing very intelligent individuals, their scheduling is often very old fashioned and does not take into account walk-in patients or no-show patients. Fortunately, some more advanced scheduling methods have been developed. One of these scheduling methods is overbooking. Overbooking is when an office schedules more patients than it can serve in order to compensate for the chance that a patient will not honor their appointment. Unfortunately overbooking usually doesn’t consider walk-in patients (which are becoming increasingly common). The research herein shows that scheduled patients are preferred to walk-in patients. A schedule consisting entirely of walk-in patients should expect an 80% increase in wait time over an entirely scheduled patient base. This occurs despite both systems helping the same number of patients. As such, doctor’s offices should incentivize their patients to schedule appointments rather than arrive unannounced. This study also shows that as the no show rate of schedule patients increases, so does the expected wait time by the patients (when the office is using the overbooking scheduling method). For this simulation built in this study (an overbooking simulation), there will be an 18% decrease in patient wait time if a doctor can move from 10% no-shows to 0% no-shows. Overbooking helps maintain a high utilization in offices with high no-show rates, but the best system is one where all the patients honor their appointments. A more scientific approach to scheduling in doctor’s offices will allow doctors to spend more time helping patients: a good thing for doctors and patients alike.