The Bangkok Dusit Medical Services network in Thailand has 32 hospitals scattered over the region, with 2587 medical specialists in 13 different categories such as cardiology, neurosurgery, orthopedics, anesthesiology, ophthalmology, oncology, and radiotherapy.  An unfortunate reality is that not every hospital can have a full time representative of each specialty on its staff.  Each specialist typically has a home hospital, so a challenge is, given current demands at each hospital for each specialty, how should medical specialists be temporarily reassigned to best meet current demands? 

Nantana Suppapitnarm and Krit Pongpirul of the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand used the What’sBest! optimization software to solve this problem.

A solution needs to satisfy a variety of conditions or constraints such as:

a) you cannot reassign from a hospital more specialists than the hospital has available, and,

b) the current demand for each specialty at each hospital should be satisfied by the reassignment.

A variety of criteria can be used as an objective function for judging the goodness of a solution.  The easiest to understand component of the objective function is to minimize the travel time from the home hospital to the reassigned hospital. A less easily quantified component of the objective is an educational component, e.g., one may want to reassign a young specialist to a hospital in which the specialist is likely to gain intensive experience. Suppapitnarm and Pongpirul implemented the system with a web interface so that hospital system executives could use the system to easily and quickly evaluate a variety of scenarios.

This work is described in the article, “Model for allocation of medical specialists in a hospital network”, Journal of Healthcare Leadership, 2018:10 pp. 45–53.

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