IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Appointment Scheduling Game


  • Antoine Sauré

    () (Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1Z2)

  • Martin L. Puterman

    () (Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1Z2)


This paper describes the appointment scheduling game (ASG), an easy to use teaching tool that reveals the challenges in managing advance patient scheduling systems, and also provides an introduction to simulation and decision analysis. In addition to describing the game, the paper provides recommendations on how to play it, student questions and suggested answers, and a Markov decision process (MDP) formulation. The ASG simulates a system in which daily patient appointment requests, which are characterized by their urgency level, arrive randomly. Daily service capacity is limited. Students playing the game assume the role of a scheduling clerk who must assign appointment dates to these requests without knowing future demand. They are left to discover the need for performance metrics, data collection, and strategy formulation. An attractive feature of the game is that it requires only a printed one-month calendar, multicolored poker chips, and a standard six-sided die. Although the game is primarily aimed at undergraduate and graduate operations students, it also can be used to introduce a range of MDP concepts to advanced operations research students. The game has been used successfully in several courses at the University of British Columbia including “Managing Health Care System Operations” (MBA), “Managing Patient Flow” (executive MBA in healthcare) and “Logistics and Operations Management” (undergraduate). It has also been used by colleagues at the University of Ottawa, McGill University, and the University of Michigan.

Suggested Citation

  • Antoine Sauré & Martin L. Puterman, 2014. "The Appointment Scheduling Game," INFORMS Transactions on Education, INFORMS, vol. 14(2), pages 73-85, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:orited:v:14:y:2014:i:2:p:73-85

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:orited:v:14:y:2014:i:2:p:73-85. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mirko Janc). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.