The study demonstrates the suitability, flexibility and efficiency of applying constraint programming for an automatic generation of schedules for physicians. Constraint programming is about assigning values to a number of variables subject to constraints. In personnel scheduling, a variable represents a staff member at a certain time and these variables are assigned work tasks or shifts.
Examples of constraints are that a limited number of doctors can do operation simultaneously and that there is a lowest number of appointments that must be scheduled each week. A real life problem from a Swedish clinic has been studied and a prototype software, without any optimisation, has been developed. Tests with random pre-assignments have been carried out for different variable orders.
The clinic’s constraints were formulated as two global constraints: count and logical constraints. The software successfully makes schedules for some instances, but to make it more dynamic, real life pre-assignments and constraints on individual doctors should be tested interactively, using an appropriate user interface.
Source: Uppsala University
Author: Edqvist, Samuel