Health Systems

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 102–111 | Cite as

Optimized staff allocation for inpatient phlebotomy and electrocardiography services via mathematical modelling in an acute regional and teaching hospital

  • Kenneth C M YipEmail author
  • Kevin W H Huang
  • Esther W Y Ho
  • W K Chan
  • Irene L Y Lee
Original Article


Adhering to pre-defined service routes that cover a fixed set of wards in a shift, the inpatient phlebotomy service provides 24-hour coverage for a 27-storey, 1,400-bed hospital. We present an application of mathematical optimization to improve its service efficiency without injecting additional resources. A mixed integer programming model was implemented to revamp the service route configuration to minimize workload discrepancies among service routes, limit maximum daily workload per route and restrict routes to span a maximum number of floor levels, while taking into consideration the ward-specific demand for each duty (i.e. daytime, evening, and night time) throughout the day. This data-driven and evidence-based approach has facilitated an overhaul of the existing route configuration of the inpatient phlebotomy service, which resulted in a more effective and contented workforce, as well as a more efficient service with an evened-out workload among phlebotomists and increased time spent on direct patient care by phlebotomists. Subsequent scenario analysis revealed that more manpower on a micro-level is not necessarily better and highlighted the importance to strategically design duty hours and allocate manpower across different duties on a system level.


healthcare service planning resource allocation optimization mixed-integer programming 

Supplementary material

41306_2016_1_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (105 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 106 kb)


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Copyright information

© The OR Society 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth C M Yip
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kevin W H Huang
    • 2
  • Esther W Y Ho
    • 3
  • W K Chan
    • 4
  • Irene L Y Lee
    • 3
  1. 1.Financial Planning, Finance Division, Hospital AuthorityKowloon, Hong KongChina
  2. 2.Commissioning Team, Hong Kong Children’s Hospital, Hospital AuthorityHong KongChina
  3. 3.Central Nursing DepartmentQueen Mary Hospital, Hospital AuthorityHong KongChina
  4. 4.Accident & Emergency DepartmentQueen Mary Hospital, Hospital AuthorityHong KongChina

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