Annals of Operations Research vol:194 issue:1 pages:365-384
Despite decades of research into automated methods for nurse rostering and some academic successes, one may notice that there is no consistency in the knowledge that has been built up over the years and that many healthcare institutions still resort to manual practices. One of the possible reasons for this gap between the nurse rostering theory and practice is that often the academic community focuses on the development of new techniques rather than developing systems for healthcare institutions. In addition, methods suitable for one problem are usually not easily transferable to other problems. In real-world healthcare environments, a personnel manager cannot afford to model a problem and construct a roster using available approaches in order to quantitatively determine which one suits best. There is a lack of criteria for the comparison of approaches to provide a clear picture about their advantages and disadvantages and therefore their suitability to a problem in hand. This paper introduces seven criteria: expressive power, flexibility, algorithmic power, learning capabilities, maintenance, rescheduling capabilities, and parameter tuning, that may offer guidance to researchers and developers of systems for nurse rostering. Two approaches to nurse rostering, which are of very different nature, are evaluated and compared against the introduced criteria. One approach is based on meta-heuristics, while the other employs case-based reasoning.