Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


3.3 HEALTH SCIENCES, Health care sciences and services, Business and Management.

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) to the Technological University Dublin, 2011.


The Irish healthcare system is currently facing major pressures due to rising demand, caused by population growth, ageing and high expectations of service quality. This pressure on the Irish healthcare system creates a need for support from research institutions in dealing with decision areas such as resource allocation and performance measurement. While approaches such as modelling, simulation, multi-criteria decision analysis, performance management, and optimisation can – when applied skilfully – improve healthcare performance, they represent just one part of the solution. Accordingly, to achieve significant and sustainable performance, this research aims to develop a practical, yet effective, optimisation-based framework for managing complex processes in the healthcare domain. Through an extensive review of the literature on the aforementioned solution techniques, limitations of using each technique on its own are identified in order to define a practical integrated approach toward developing the proposed framework. During the framework validation phase, real-time strategies have to be optimised to solve Emergency Department performance issues in a major hospital. Results show a potential of significant reduction in patients average length of stay (i.e. 48% of average patient throughput time) whilst reducing the over-reliance on overstretched nursing resources, that resulted in an increase of staff utilisation between 7% and 10%. Given the high uncertainty in healthcare service demand, using the integrated framework allows decision makers to find optimal staff schedules that improve emergency department performance. The proposed optimum staff schedule reduces the average waiting time of patients by 57% and also contributes to reduce number of patients left without treatment to 8% instead of 17%. The developed framework has been implemented by the hospital partner with a high level of success.