Published by Pergamon Press for Operational Research Society
Journal of the Operational Research Society vol:61 issue:11 pages:1667-1679
The benefits of automating the nurse scheduling process in hospitals include reducing the planning workload and associated costs and being able to create higher quality and more flexible schedules. This has become more important recently in order to retain nurses and to attract more people into the profession. Better quality rosters also reduce fatigue and stress due to overwork and poor scheduling and help to maximise the use of leisure time by satisfying more requests. A more contented workforce will lead to higher productivity, increased quality of patient service and a better level of healthcare.
This paper presents a scatter search approach for the problem of automatically creating nurse rosters. Scatter search is an evolutionary algorithm which has been successfully applied across a number of problem domains. To adapt and apply scatter search to nurse rostering, it was necessary to develop novel implementations of some of scatter search’s subroutines. The algorithm was then tested on publicly available real world benchmark instances and compared against previously published approaches. The results show the proposed algorithm is a robust and effective method on a wide variety of real world instances.