Dynamic transportation of patients in hospitals
- This paper analyzes and solves a patient transportation problem arising in several large hospitals. The aim is to provide an efficient and timely transport service to patients between several locations on a hospital campus. Transportation requests arrive in a dynamic fashion and the solution methodology must therefore be capable of quickly inserting new requests in the current vehicle routes. Contrary to standard dial-a-ride problems, the problem under study contains several complicating constraints which are specific to a hospital context. The paper provides a detailed description of the problem and proposes a two-phase heuristic procedure capable of handling its many features. In the first phase a simple insertion scheme is used to generate a feasible solution, which is improved in the second phase with a tabu search algorithm. The heuristic procedure was extensively tested on real data provided by a German hospital. Results show that the algorithm is capable of handling the dynamic aspect of the problem and of providing high quality solutions. In particular, it succeeded in reducing waiting times for patients while using fewer vehicles.