Date of Award

Fall 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial Engineering - (Ph.D.)


Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

First Advisor

Sanchoy K. Das

Second Advisor

Reggie J. Caudill

Third Advisor

Golgen Bengu

Fourth Advisor

Wenbo Cai

Fifth Advisor

Cheickna Sylla


Ambulatory surgery is a procedure that does not require an overnight hospital stay and is cost effective and efficient. The goal of this research is to develop an ASF operational model which allows management to make key decisions. This research develops and utilizes the simulation software ARENA based model to accommodate: (a) Time related uncertainties – Three system uncertainties characterize the problem (ii) Surgery time variance (ii) Physician arrival delay and (iii) Patient arrival delay; (b) Resource Capture Complexities – Patient flows vary significantly and capture/utilize both staffing and/or physical resources at different points and varying levels; and (c) Processing Time Differences – Patient care activities and surgical operation times vary by type and have a high level of variance between patient acuity within the same surgery type. A multi-dimensional ASF non-clinical performance objective is formulated and includes: (i) Fixed Labor Costs – regular time staffing costs for two nurse groups and medical/tech assistants, (i i) Overtime Labor Costs – staffing costs beyond the regular schedule, (i i i) Patient Delay Penalty – Imputed costs of waiting time experienced patients, and (iv) Physician Delay Penalty – Imputed costs of physicians having to delay surgical procedures due to ASF causes (limited staffing, patient delays, blocked OR, etc.).

Three ASF decision problems are studied: (i) Optimize Staffing Resources Levels - Variations in staffing levels though are inversely related to patient waiting times and physician delays. The decision variable is the number of staff for three resource groups, for a given physician assignment and surgery profile. The results show that the decision space is convex, but decision robustness varies by problem type. For the problems studied the optimal levels provided 9% to 28% improvements relative to the baseline staffing level. The convergence rate is highest for less than optimal levels of Nurse-A. The problem is thus amenable to a gradient based search. (ii) Physician Block Assignment - The decision variables are the block assignments and the patient arrivals by type in each block. Five block assignment heuristics are developed and evaluated. Heuristic #4 which utilizes robust activity estimates (75% likelihood) and generates an asymmetrical resource utilization schedule, is found to be statistically better or equivalent to all other heuristics for 9 out of the 10 problems and (iii) Patient Arrival Schedule – Three decision variables in the patient arrival control (a) Arrival time of first patient in a block (b) The distribution and sequence of patients for each surgery type within the assigned windows and (c) The inter arrival time between patients, which could be constant or varying. Seven scheduling heuristics were developed and tested. Two heuristics one based on Palmers Rule and the other based on the SPT (Shortest Processing Time) Rule gave very strong results.