Optimal scheduling and calendar management in an outpatient chemotherapy unit is a complex process that is driven by a need to focus on safety while accommodating a high degree of variability. Primary constraints are infusion times, staffing resources, chair availability, and unit hours. Regardless of the practice setting, the principles and priorities of the units remain the same, with an emphasis on safety and efficiency. Both national shortages of chemotherapy-trained nurses and the need to minimize overhead costs from chairs drive the need for efficient use of limited resources.

The new model reduced staffing violations by nearly 50% and required fewer chairs to treat the same number of patients for the selected clinic day. Actual implementation results indicated that the new model leveled the distribution of patients across the workday with an 18% reduction in maximum chair utilization and a 27% reduction in staffing violations. Subsequently, a positive impact on peak pharmacy workload reduced delays by as much as 35 minutes. Nursing staff satisfaction with the new model was positive.

We conclude that the proposed optimization approach with regard to nursing resource assignment and workload balance throughout a day effectively improves patient service quality and staff satisfaction.