Improving patient access in oncology clinics using simulation

Maryam Keshtzari, Bryan A. Norman


Purpose: Providing timely access is an important measure of patient satisfaction in specialty care clinics such as cancer centers. Excessive patient wait time to see an oncologist is very critical for cancer patients as they often benefit from starting the treatment process as soon as possible. This paper addresses capacity planning for both new and returning patients in cancer clinics. This research is motivated by a cancer center in Texas that seeks to improve its clinical performance to decrease new patient wait time to see an oncologist.

Design/methodology/approach: A simulation model is proposed to assess new patient access to oncologists when employing several tactical and operational policies such as resource flexibility, specialization flexibility, and reserving slots for new patients. The model utilizes two years of data collected from a cancer center in Texas.

Findings: The results suggest the best combination of operating policies in order to allocate patient demand to providers. This study also determines the required capacity level to provide timely access for new patients.

Originality/value: Although the literature in outpatient scheduling and capacity planning is rich, new patient access in oncology clinics has received limited attention. The few existing studies do not consider patient no-shows and cancellations, and to the best of our knowledge, no study addresses individual oncologist clinic flexibility and the idea of reserving slots for new patients.


Patient access, capacity planning, simulation, resource flexibility, oncology clinics

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Licencia de Creative Commons 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management, 2008-2024

Online ISSN: 2013-0953; Print ISSN: 2013-8423; Online DL: B-28744-2008

Publisher: OmniaScience