Appointment scheduling in health care: Challenges and opportunities

Diwakar Gupta, Brian Denton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

706 Scopus citations


Appointment scheduling systems are used by primary and specialty care clinics to manage access to service providers, as well as by hospitals to schedule elective surgeries. Many factors affect the performance of appointment systems including arrival and service time variability, patient and provider preferences, available information technology and the experience level of the scheduling staff. In addition, a critical bottleneck lies in the application of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IE/OR) techniques. The most common types of health care delivery systems are described in this article with particular attention on the factors that make appointment scheduling challenging. For each environment relevant decisions ranging from a set of rules that guide schedulers to real-time responses to deviations from plans are described. A road map of the state of the art in the design of appointment management systems is provided and future opportunities for novel applications of IE/OR models are identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)800-819
Number of pages20
JournalIIE Transactions (Institute of Industrial Engineers)
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Drs. S.R. Allmaras, M.B. Giles, E.J. Nielsen, M.A. Park, and J.T. Thomas for helpful comments and discussion pertaining to this work. The FUN2D flow solver was developed at NASA Langley by Dr. W.K. Anderson and Dr. E.J. Nielsen. The BL2D and BAMG grid generators were developed at INRIA-Rocquencourt, France, by Drs. P. Laug and H. Borouchaki, and by Dr. F. Hecht, respectively. The support of the National Science Foundation (ACI-9896341), The Boeing Company, NASA Langley (NAG1-2275, NAG-1-02037), and FCAR (Fonds pour la Formation de Chercheurs et l’Aide à la Recherche) is gratefully acknowledged.


  • Access rules
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Health care operations management


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