A clinical pathway is a multi-disciplinary view of the treatment process required by a group of patients presenting the same pathology with a predictable clinical course. While scheduling the activities of the pathway of a single patient is straightforward, scheduling a pool of patients in a clinic with limited resources raises lots of trade-off concerns. Such concerns must not impact the patient quality of care but must also be fair for all patients for ethical reasons. There is also an economic rationale to streamline the treatment of patients, meaning that resources should be used efficiently. In this setting, an optimizing tool can help to organize clinical pathways. Given that the patients flow is continuous and that a number of unforeseen personal or medical events can require treatment to be postponed or adapted, schedules need to be adjusted on the go, with no interference on already confirmed appointments.
Currently, tool support is still lagging behind and often still relies on manual or basic tools such as spreadsheets or scheduling templates. A number of approaches have been put forward but are never fully coping with the full picture, especially taking explicitly the quality of care as part of the problem.
The aim of this paper is to show that the scheduling of appointments in clinical pathways should be strongly driven by care quality indicators to ensure that all patient schedules remain compatible with optimal care while ensuring optimal resource allocation.