Balancing the satisfaction of stakeholders in home health care coordination: a novel OptaPlanner CSP model

Tour coordination.

As part of the development of the innovative BL.Optim solution, we questioned the concept of route optimization for home health care coordination. We are pleased to inform you that this research and innovation work has recently resulted in a scientific publication in the journal Health Systems, that brings together critical research and commentary on health operations and information technology, and to provide a forum that welcomes diverse viewpoints and research approaches.

Our article is entitled : “Balancing the satisfaction of stakeholders in home health care coordination: a novel OptaPlanner CSP model

Have a look to this article

With the increasing prevalence of disabilities and long-term diseases, Home Health Care (HHC) services have responded by expanding, and they are generally considered an efficient alternative to hospital stays. Very often, medical and social institutions alike are developing such solutions. When providing these home care services, the anticipated patient demand is distributed over a large geographical area. The system under consideration naturally delivers services to many different locations in a given territory, which means that there is a requirement for scheduling and routing caregivers to perform the care services.

Furthermore, in order to comply with a patient’s care plan, each caregiver must have all the details of their own planning. When a large number of caregivers are involved, decisions about how to divide up the work and to dispatch resources must be made. Therefore, the coordination of stakeholders is absolutely vital. Generally, a centralized function is in charge of designing and monitoring a collection of home healthcare processes at the management level, delivering updated and consistent planning.

This subject has been widely investigated in operations research and is known as the Home Health Care Routing and Scheduling Problem (HHCRSP). For tackling the HHCRSP, there are three primary aims of this research work:

  • 1) To investigate the main concepts featuring the satisfaction of all stakeholders, starting from the relevant content in the literature, then establishing a knowledge bank to facilitate the mathematical formulation of planning problems in HHC systems considering this satisfaction of stakeholders.
  • 2) To prepare Constraint Satisfaction Problem (CSP)-oriented optimization in the search for solutions by the open-source OptaPlanner solver, which embeds modeling of the stakeholders’ satisfaction requirements, and then to solve this CSP-based model by an efficient metaheuristic method. As far as we know, no studies have used an OptaPlanner-oriented model to address such a variant of the HHCRSP.
  • 3) Finally, in an experimental part, we will show the computing performance of our approach by comparing the results obtained with those generated by an earlier Mixed Integer Linear Programming (MILP)-based exact method presented in our previous research work (Zhang et al. 2021).

We then perform an in-depth analysis of a large use case through a detailed comparison of the results with and without the satisfaction constraint and analyze the impact of these satisfaction considerations. The experiment is based on 12 real-life use cases, which are extracted from the database of an operational product belonging to a customer of the Berger-Levrault company. This customer is an HHC organization providing services in a medium-sized town located in the west of France.

    What’s next?

    In future works, we will improve our approach by checking that the generated schedules are consistent with the expectations of all stakeholders involved in coordination and operations management. We will try to collaborate with a set of managers in an HHC organization and obtain the benefit of their feedback as users of the planning tool. This will be a new area of investigation since the generated planning will be assessed by the end users, and in doing so, the overall utility of the satisfaction criteria will also be qualified.

    Finally, we will have to face a lot of the uncertainties that have been neglected up until now and manage these uncertain events through real-time data collected by mobile scheduling software during the delivery of care services by caregivers, which will help in the generation of dynamic solutions for HHCRSP, or other similar scheduling and routing problem.

    To read the full article, click here.

    Reference > Zhang, Liwen, Franck Fontanili, Elyes Lamine, Christophe Bortolaso, Mustapha Derras, et Hervé Pingaud. 2021. « Stakeholders’ Tolerance-Based Linear Model for Home Health Care Coordination ». IFAC-PapersOnLine, 17th IFAC Symposium on Information Control Problems in Manufacturing INCOM 2021, 54 (1): 269‑75.

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