Integral patient scheduling in outpatient clinics under demand uncertainty to minimize patient waiting times

J.R. Munavalli*, S.V. Rao, A. Srinivasan, G.G. van Merode

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study addressed the problem of scheduling walk-in patients in real time. Outpatient clinics encounter uncertainty in patient demand. In addition, the disparate departments are locally (department-centric) organized, leading to prolonged waiting times for patients. The proposed integral patient scheduling model incorporates the status and information of all departments in the outpatient clinic along with all possible pathways to direct patients, on their arrival, to the optimal path. The developed hybrid ant agent algorithm identifies the optimal path to reduce the patient waiting time and cycle time (time from registration to exit). An outpatient clinic in Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai, has a huge volume of walk-in patients and was selected for this study. The simulation study was performed for diverse scenarios followed by implementation study. The results indicate that integral patient scheduling reduced waiting time significantly. The path optimization in real time makes scheduling effective and efficient as it captures the changes in the outpatient clinic instantly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-448
Number of pages14
JournalHealth Informatics Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • ant colony optimization
  • pathway optimization
  • patient scheduling
  • real-time scheduling
  • routing algorithms
  • simulation
  • system
  • waiting times
  • walk-in patients

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