Health Care Management Science

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 155-169

First online:

A non-homogeneous discrete time Markov model for admission scheduling and resource planning in a cost or capacity constrained healthcare system

  • Lalit GargAffiliated withSchool of Computing and Information Engineering, University of Ulster Email author 
  • , Sally McCleanAffiliated withSchool of Computing and Information Engineering, University of Ulster
  • , Brian MeenanAffiliated withSchool of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, University of Ulster
  • , Peter MillardAffiliated withSt George’s, University of London

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Healthcare resource planners need to develop policies that ensure optimal allocation of scarce healthcare resources. This goal can be achieved by forecasting daily resource requirements for a given admission policy. If resources are limited, admission should be scheduled according to the resource availability. Such resource availability or demand can change with time. We here model patient flow through the care system as a discrete time Markov chain. In order to have a more realistic representation, a non-homogeneous model is developed which incorporates time-dependent covariates, namely a patient’s present age and the present calendar year. The model presented in this paper can be used for admission scheduling, resource requirement forecasting and resource allocation, so as to satisfy the demand or resource constraints or to meet the expansion or contraction plans in a hospital and community based integrated care system. Such a model can be used with both fixed and variable numbers of admissions per day and should prove to be a useful tool for care managers and policy makers who require to make strategic management decisions. We also describe an application of the model to an elderly care system, using a historical dataset from the geriatric department of a London hospital.


Resource management Admission scheduling Non-homogeneous Markov model Stochastic optimal control