A stochastic programming approach for chemotherapy appointment scheduling

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Demir N. B., Gül S., Celik M.

NAVAL RESEARCH LOGISTICS, vol.68, no.1, pp.112-133, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 68 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/nav.21952
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Aerospace Database, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, Communication Abstracts, Compendex, INSPEC, Metadex, zbMATH, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.112-133
  • Keywords: appointment scheduling, chemotherapy, progressive hedging, scheduling, stochastic programming, PROGRESSIVE HEDGING ALGORITHM, HEALTH-CARE, SYSTEMS, BRANCH
  • TED University Affiliated: Yes


Chemotherapy appointment scheduling is a challenging problem due to the uncertainty in premedication and infusion durations. In this paper, we formulate a two-stage stochastic mixed integer programming model for the chemotherapy appointment scheduling problem under limited availability of nurses and infusion chairs. The objective is to minimize the expected weighted sum of nurse overtime, chair idle time, and patient waiting time. The computational burden to solve real-life instances of this problem to optimality is significantly high, even in the deterministic case. To overcome this burden, we incorporate valid bounds and symmetry breaking constraints. Progressive hedging algorithm is implemented in order to solve the improved formulation heuristically. We enhance the algorithm through a penalty update method, cycle detection and variable fixing mechanisms, and a linear approximation of the objective function. Using numerical experiments based on real data from a major oncology hospital, we compare our solution approach with several scheduling heuristics from the relevant literature, generate managerial insights related to the impact of the number of nurses and chairs on appointment schedules, and estimate the value of stochastic solution to assess the significance of considering uncertainty.