Adaptation of Shift Sequence Based Method for High Number in Shifts Rostering Problem for Health Care Workers

Mindaugas Liogys


Purpose—is to investigate a shift sequence-based approach efficiency then problem consisting of a high number of shifts.
Research objectives:
• Solve health care workers rostering problem using a shift sequence based method.
• Measure its efficiency then number of shifts increases.
Design/methodology/approach—Usually rostering problems are highly constrained. Constraints are classified to soft and hard constraints. Soft and hard constraints of the problem are additionally classified to: sequence constraints, schedule constraints and roster constraints. Sequence constraints are considered when constructing shift sequences. Schedule constraints are considered when constructing a schedule. Roster constraints are applied, then constructing overall solution, i.e. combining all schedules.
Shift sequence based approach consists of two stages:
• Shift sequences construction,
• The construction of schedules.
In the shift sequences construction stage, the shift sequences are constructed for each set of health care workers of different skill, considering sequence constraints. Shifts sequences are ranked by their penalties for easier retrieval in later stage.
In schedules construction stage, schedules for each health care worker are constructed iteratively, using the shift sequences produced in stage 1.
Shift sequence based method is an adaptive iterative method where health care workers who received the highest schedule penalties in the last iteration are scheduled first at the current iteration.
During the roster construction, and after a schedule has been generated for the current health care worker, an improvement method based on an efficient greedy local search is carried out on the partial roster. It simply swaps any pair of shifts between two health care workers in the (partial) roster, as long as the swaps satisfy hard constraints and decrease the roster penalty.
Findings—Using shift sequence method for solving health care workers rostering problem is inefficient, because of large amount of shifts sequences (feasible shifts sequences are approximately 260 thousands).
In order to speed up roster construction process shifts are grouped to four groups: morning shifts, day shifts, night shifts and duty shifts. There are only 64 feasible shifts sequences, in this case.
After roster construction shift groups are replaced with the one of shift belonging to that group of shifts.
When all shifts are added to roster, computation of workload for each schedule is performed. If computed workload is equal to the one defined in working contract, then this schedule is complete, else begin shifts revision process. During revision process those schedules are considered which do not meet work contract requirements.
If computed workload is larger than the one defined in working contract, each shift is replaced with the shift, if it’s possible, with lesser duration time. If computed workload is lesser than the one defined in working contract, each shift is replaced with the shift, if it’s possible, with larger duration time.
This process continues while schedule does not meet workload requirement defined in working contract or no further improvement can be made.
Research limitations/implications—Problem dimension: 27 health care workers, 15 shifts, over 20 soft constraints, rostering period—one calendar month.
Practical implications – modifications made to shift sequence based approach allows to construct a roster for one of the major Lithuania’s hospitals personnel in shorter time.
Originality/Value—modification of shift sequence based approach is proposed.
Research type: research paper.


shift; sequence; schedule; health care workers rostering

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"Social Technologies" ISSN online 2029-7564