Assistant Professor Dr. Michelle Alvarado, a recent hire for the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering, won first place in the INFORMS Minority Issues Forum (MIF) Paper Competition for her paper, “Chemotherapy appointment scheduling under uncertainty using mean-risk stochastic integer programming.”
The paper discusses the issues that can arise when oncology clinics must schedule cancer patients for multiple chemotherapy treatments, without having complete knowledge of how long the appointments will last, how many nurses will be working each day, and whether the patient will have an adverse reaction to the treatment. Additionally, the timing of the chemotherapy treatments also plays a major role in each patient’s treatment effectiveness. Alvarado, along with her colleague, Lewis Ntaimo developed three mean-risk stochastic integer programming (SIP) models to determine an appointment schedule for each patient. Using a simulation model, results indicated that the mean-risk SIP-CHEMO models can decrease patient waiting times and nurse overtime by 42% and 27%, respectively.
“This unique modeling approach changes how chemotherapy appointment schedules are made. The new optimal schedules deliver patient-centered outcomes by reducing waiting time and service time for cancer patients, which in turn reduces overtime for the clinic staff. More importantly, these improved scheduling decisions accomplish this without sacrificing patient access to healthcare services.”
The INFORMS MIF Paper Competition has been around since 2016, and only considers papers that have been accepted or published within two years of the award date. The competition’s main purpose is to highlight and bring visibility to contributions that have been made by MIF members in fields such as operations research, management science, and information systems. Each paper is judged on specific criteria such as originality of research, technical rigor, and relevance and impact to future theory or applications.
Alvarado is continuing her research efforts and is currently working on scheduling for outpatient skin cancer surgeries with dermatology clinics in Gainesville, FL.