Operations research/management contributions to emergency department patient flow optimization: Review and research prospects

Soroush Saghafian, Garrett Austin, Stephen Traub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Scopus citations


In recent years, Operations Research/Management (OR/OM) has had a significant impact on improving the performance of hospital Emergency Departments (EDs). This includes improving a wide range of processes involving patient flow from the initial call to the ED through disposition, discharge home, or admission to the hospital. We review approximately 350 related papers to (i) demonstrate the influence of OR/OM in EDs, and (ii) assist both researchers and practitioners with the OR/OM techniques already available to optimize ED patient flow. In addition, we elaborate on some practical challenges yet to be addressed. By shedding light on some less studied aspects that can have significant impacts on ED operations, we also discuss important possibilities for future OR/OM researchers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-123
Number of pages23
JournalIIE Transactions on Healthcare Systems Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2015



  • emergency department
  • operational efficiency
  • Operations research/management
  • patient flow
  • patient safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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