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planning patient transports in hospitals
Planning transport processes in hospitals is a quite complex and involved task. On one hand very different kinds of transports have to be managed: meals have to be delivered, beds have to be relocated upon the arrival and departure of patients, drugs and blood need to be made available in time, and patients have to arrive punctually at treatment rooms. On the other hand, there is a high uncertainty in the data available. This is due not only to the occurrence of emergency tasks but also because of the still underdeveloped availability of well-maintained and accurate data in hospitals. This talk is devoted to an online dial-a-ride problem arising in the transportation of patients in a hospital campus. The talk will focus on routing and scheduling vehicles (e.g., ambulances, transport teams on foot) that serve requests for transporting patients between wards and examination rooms. The efficient organization of these transports strongly affects the planning of activities in other hospital wards (e.g., operation room planning). Based on real-life cases we will show that the problem complexity is increased by a number of specific service-related constraints in addition to those encountered in typical dial-a-ride problems. Hospital inherent aspects include, among others, accounting for transport priorities (e.g., emergency requests), for transportation aids (a patient transport may generate additional transport requests for material and/or personnel that must accompany the patient), for different vehicle types and personnel skills, and for soft time windows with respect to the desired pickup and/or drop-off times of the patients. Such constraints significantly complicate the construction and modification of high-quality.