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The Appointment Scheduling Game

Author

Listed:
  • 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)

Abstract

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
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/ited.2013.0119
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