Queuing Theory in Healthcare

Subject: Health Care
Type: Descriptive Essay
Pages: 2
Word count: 333
Topics: Health, Medical Ethics, Medicine, Scientific Method

Palvannan and Teow (2012) define queuing theory as an equation determining the linkage between demand, capacity and the time of waiting in circumstances where variability is notable. In health care, the theory is applicable because, in most instances, the patients outnumber the care providers available. Queue length and waiting time are determined by the arrival rates of patients and the service rate (Buzzakott, n.d). The waiting time is also dependent on the variability of time taken by the care providers to serve the patients. Service time variation arises from inconsistent servers, the performance of the same task by different personnel leading to varying mean times and the needs of the patients. Patients dislike waiting. For this reason, health care institutions should have measures that minimize the length of the queue and the waiting time. Having more servers in the form of healthcare staff is a progressive move towards limiting the lengths of the queue and thus waiting times (Fomundam & Herrmann, 2007).

On a visit to a hospital for my routine check, I was able to note the provisions of the queuing theory. Upon arrival, I had to report to the reception where confirmation of the relevant details before being directed to the waiting section. The outpatient unit had five servers with each room having a doctor. The queue discipline was commendable as all the patients waited for their turns. The discipline was maintained as none of the patients was in urgent need of care. Regarding line configuration, doctors called out the patients based on the time of registration at the reception. The line moved on a first-come-first-serve basis. Some patients showed restlessness while the doctors were patient and handled each case comprehensively.

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  1. Buzacott, J. A. (n.d). Queueing Theory and Its Applications. meetings 2.informs.org. 
  2. Fomundam, S., & Herrmann, J. W. (2007). A survey of queuing theory applications in healthcare.
  3. Palvannan, R. K., & Teow, K. L. (2012). Queuing for healthcare. Journal of medical systems36(2), 541-547.
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