Facilitating the transition from manual to automated nurse rostering

Abstract

After several decades of academic research in the field of automated nurse rostering, few results find their way to practice. Often, the configuration of a software system for automated rostering presents a task considered too time-consuming and difficult. The present article introduces a methodology for automating part of the costly and unintuitive configuration process by automatically determining the relative importance of soft constraints based on historical data. Naturally, this automated approach can only be reliable in the absence of transient effects and drastic changes. The approach is evaluated on retrospective and prospective case studies, and is validated by health-care practitioners partaking in an experimental study. The results show that, given relevant historical data, the presented approach simplifies the transition from manual to automated rostering, thus bringing academic research on nurse rostering closer to its practical application.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Tobania and the hospital staff for their cooperation. This research was carried out within the IWT 110257 project.

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Correspondence to Pieter Smet.

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Mihaylov, M., Smet, P., Van Den Noortgate, W. et al. Facilitating the transition from manual to automated nurse rostering. Health Syst 5, 120–131 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1057/hs.2015.12

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Keywords

  • nurse rostering
  • weighted sum objective function
  • automated weight extraction