• Vol. 38 No. 6, 564–566
  • 15 June 2009

Practical Operations Research Applications for Healthcare Managers



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Operations research (OR) focuses on the application of analytical methods to facilitate better decision-making. Despite its usefulness and proliferation of papers in the academic literature, there are still major issues around getting OR models widely accepted and used as part of mainstream decision-making by clinicians, health managers and policy-makers. This article aims to raise the awareness of healthcare managers with regard to practical OR applications.

Operations Research, also known as Operational Research (OR) or Management Science, existed as a scientific discipline since the 1930s. It is the discipline of applying appropriate analytical methods for decision making1 such as simulation, and optimisation. Simulation gives one the ability to try out approaches and test ideas for improvement. Optimisation narrows choices to the very best when there are virtually innumerable feasible options and comparing them is difficult.1 These techniques have been applied and proven in many industries under different names, for instance, Lean in manufacturing, Supply Chain in logistics, and Yield Management in airlines.

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