Management of queues in out-patient departments: the use of computer simulation

J Manag Med. 1996;10(6):50-8, 3. doi: 10.1108/02689239610153212.


Notes that patients attending public outpatient departments in Hong Kong spend a long time waiting for a short consultation, that clinics are congested and that both staff and patients are dissatisfied. Points out that experimentation of management changes in a busy clinical environment can be both expensive and difficult. Demonstrates computerized simulation modelling as a potential tool for clarifying processes occurring within such systems, improving clinic operation by suggesting possible answers to problems identified and evaluating the solutions, without interfering with the clinic routine. Adds that solutions can be implemented after they had proved to be successful on the model. Demonstrates some ways in which managers in health care facilities can benefit from the use of computerized simulation modelling. Specifically, shows the effect of changing the duration of consultation and the effect of the application of an appointment system on patients' waiting time.

MeSH terms

  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Health Services Research / methods
  • Hong Kong
  • Models, Organizational
  • Office Visits
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Process Assessment, Health Care / methods*
  • Time Management
  • Time and Motion Studies
  • Waiting Lists*