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Pieces of Eight


Model Saves Time, Money

Three College of Business faculty members, with input from ECU Student Health Center staff, developed a mathematical model that helped the center save an estimated $150,000 annually in staff downtime.

Decision Sciences professors John Kros, Scott Dellana and Dave West developed the model in response to costs associated with health center patients who missed appointments at the center. With nearly 35,000 patient visits annually, and a 10 to 15 percent rate of patients who did not show up for appointments, the cost was significant.

The model demonstrated the benefits and consequences of selectively overbooking the clinical schedule, or scheduling two patients in the same appointment time period. Kros, Dellana and West explained how overbooking could reduce idle time for center staff, increase abilities to service patients, and improve availability of open appointment times.

As a result of their demonstration, the SHC began overbooking by about five percent during selected times in the Spring of 2006. Periods overbooked were identified as times with the highest probability of no-shows, that also had the smallest impact on the system if all patients kept their appointments.

The overbooking resulted in significant savings, reducing server idle time with no significant adverse effect on patient satisfaction. As a result, the SHC will increase their rate of selective overbooking this fall.



This page originally appeared in the Oct. 6, 2006 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at