Research Themes

Modelling and Optimization of Healthcare Delivery Services

This theme is concerned with analytical and empirical modelling of healthcare services, focusing on improving operational performance, which could potentially lead to efficiency savings, higher patient satisfaction and better health outcomes. The work is typically inspired by the problems and issues observed in the UK NHS system, and is carried out in collaboration with NHS hospitals and clinics who provide data and expertise clinical and managerial knowledge.  Prof. Mohan Sodhi leads this theme.

Active projects include:

Managing Risk of Overrun in Theatre Time in Surgical Scheduling

Description: We explore surgeons’ risk taking as implied in their pre-procedure estimation of surgery durations at two levels: at the level of the hospital across all the surgeons, and at the level of an individual surgeon.  Our dataset comprises one specialized NHS teaching hospital’s surgical procedures with surgeons’ pre-procedure estimates as well as the actual durations the procedures took.   Seen through a newsvendor lens, our first finding based surgeon estimates at the hospital level is that, the cost of over-run is being weighted at three times the cost of an under-run. Second, an analysis of the data suggests that the probability distribution of procedure durations is conditional on the estimate of a gamma distribution with values of alpha and beta as functions of the surgeon’s estimate. Third, taking percentile values of the actual duration relative to the pre-procedure probability distribution of (actual) duration conditional on the surgeon’s estimate, we find that surgeons vary considerably in their risk taking. This holds true even when we account for patient overall health and procedure type. The implications are that ongoing monitoring of costs along with guidelines to ensure consistency across surgeons can reduce both under-utilization and overrun costs in surgical scheduling. Given the wide dispersion of risk attitudes, the idea of guidelines can possibly be extended to other risky decisions involving surgeons.

Staff: Prof. Mohan Sodhi, Dr. Canan Kocabasoglu-Hillmer, and Dr. Wayne Holland

Optimal Demand and Capacity Planning in Outpatient Clinics

Description:Outpatient clinics, including primary as well as specialty care clinics, need to decide how many patients to assign to each panel of physicians (demand planning), how many appointment slots to allocate to advance booking patients and subsequently how many to reserve for urgent patients (capacity planning). The problem is complicated by high variability in patients demand for clinics, relatively high rates of patient no-show, and high variability in supply of appointments caused by staff delays and no-shows. The project deploys a range of stochastic modelling techniques including queueing theory and simulation combined with optimization theory to propose a framework for optimal demand and capacity planning both at the level of individual clinics and network of clinics. Special emphasis is placed on the use of electronic referral and booking systems, such as the Choose and Book system implemented in the UK NHS.  

Staff: Dr. Navid Izady

Accidents & Emergency Facility Network in England

Description: Motivated by the cost and service pressures on the accidents-and-emergency (A&E) system in England, we consider different ways to characterise cost reduction while ensuring that service requirements are met. There are three types of A&E hospitals in England: Type 1 facilities for all A&E patients, Type 2 facilities with a single specialty service such as ophthalmology or dental, and Type 3 for minor injuries only. We are using stylized modelling and empirical observation to obtain the necessary and sufficient conditions for when splitting off a Type 2 or Type 3 service would lower costs for a Type 1 hospital. There are policy implications especially regarding specialized Type 2 services catering to the elderly and weekend Type 3 clinics for minor injuries related to routine weekend drunkenness.

Staff: Prof. Mohan Sodhi

Appointment Scheduling in Service Facilities Supporting Scheduled and Unscheduled Customers

Description: Many service facilities provide services for both scheduled and unscheduled customers. Examples include primary and specialty care clinics that visit urgent patients on a same-day basis and non-urgent patients on an appointment basis, or utilities repair and maintenance services where repair requests must be dealt with immediately while maintenance, upgrade, or installation requests are scheduled for the future.  This research investigates constructing optimal schedules that satisfy desired performance targets for both schedules and unscheduled customers.  It involves building a model that considers not only the processing of customers within individual days, but also the dynamics of the appointment queue between arrival and appointment days. The former is studies in the advance scheduling literature where daily schedules are created taking into account daily waiting time and utilization measures. The former is considered in the capacity planning literature, where the focus is on scheduled customers and the appointment capacity needed for achieving access time targets. In order to capture measures of importance to both types of customers, we propose integrating capacity planning models with advance scheduling models.

Staff: Dr. Navid Izady

Supply Chain Management

As argued in Sodhi et al. (2012), there is need for more empirically driven investigations on responding aspect of supply chain risk management. Currently, the members of the group investigate the use of social capital for supply chain delay and disruption response, as well as understanding the link between supply chain network characteristics and the level of risk exposure of a focal firm. Also, the group has a distinctive research focus on supply chain finance and this reflects our strong link with City of London. Prof. Mohan Sodhi leads this theme.

Active projects include:

Triple bottom line and company reporting

Description: In the face of environmental concerns and increased legislation on minimizing environmental and societal impacts, investors are pressing companies for sustainability. In response, companies are producing annual sustainability reports to provide information on their efforts to improve sustainability. We investigate what efforts companies are reporting with regards to sustainability, and also whether there is any link between the sustainability efforts, as reported by companies, and aspects of firm performance.

Staff: Prof. Mohan Sodhi, Dr. Canan Kocabasoglu-Hillmer, and Aikaterina Papoutsi

Supply chain insurance

Description: This project is based on a two-pronged study of insurance: one, a survey of chief risk officers and the other a focus-group-based study of the insurance industry offerings and thinking in this area. The project seeks to draw implications for companies as regards insuring their supply chains and, more importantly, making their supply chains insurable. The market for supply chain insurance has great potential so this project also seeks to shed light on why this potential is not being realised as quickly as both companies and insurers would like.

Staff: Prof. Mohan Sodhi

Supply chain finance

Description: The focus of supply chain management has for many years been on the coordination of business functions such as purchasing, production and distribution within and across companies. Although it was recognized early that the management of supply chains should also include the integration of information and financial flows, the management of financial issues in supply chains has only very recently attracted some interest. Therefore the scope of this research project is on analysing the interactions between operations and finance effects within the context of supply chain management

Staff: Prof. Mohan Sodhi, Dr. Canan Kocabasoglu-Hillmer, Dr. Byung-Gak Son and Dr. Jörg Ries

Punctuated equilibrium in sustainability value chains

Description: We investigate the challenges in growing sustainable crops in Punjab India. Case study of five different agricultural commodities that has been completed but still need to be written up.

Staff: Prof. Mohan Sodhi 

Supply chain opportunities at the bottom of the pyramid

Description: With fast-moving-consumer-goods and other companies in emerging economies like India seeking growth, the people in the so-called bottom of the pyramid (BoP) are potential consumers. However, some leading companies as well as entrepreneurs are looking for and finding suppliers, producers, distributors, and retailers in the BoP segment. However, these opportunities are not without challenges when it comes to building and operating supply chains that interact with the BoP segment. For supply chain scholars, these supply chains and how they interact with the BoP segment present many opportunities for research. We have looked at micro-entrepreneurs as suppliers and distributors.

Staff: Prof. Mohan Sodhi, James Knuckles

Environmental sustainable inventory management

Description: In recent years, there could have been observed a continued rise in global carbon dioxide emissions, which are considered as a major trigger of the greenhouse gas effect and associated with substantial environmental damages. Among others, logistics activities in globalized supply chains have become a conspicuous factor of progressing environmental pollution. Although a significant amount of carbon dioxide emissions of logistics is caused by storage and material handling processes, prior research mostly focussed on transport elements. Therefore, the scope of this research project is to improve inventory and warehouse management in supply chains to mitigate environmental damage while improving efficiency at the same time.

Staff: Dr. Jörg Ries

Disasters, poverty and the supply chain

Description:  We look at different disasters globally to link these to poverty using data from several data sources. Separately, we conceptualize how poor micro-entrepreneurs could be used to improve relief during floods that are commonplace in Asia.

      Staff: Prof Mohan Sodhi     

Effective Buyer-Supplier Relationships and their Impact on Operational and Supply Chain Performance

Description: This project addresses two main questions: “How can we enable effective buyer/supplier relationships” and “What are the implications of dysfunctional relationships?” In the first part, several projects were carried out to understand the effect of effective-buyer supplier relationships (via strategic sourcing) on supply chain performance and, particularly in terms of agility.  In the second, part, the focus has been on consequences asymmetries between buyers and suppliers, whether in terms of resources, capabilities, investments or even perception of the relationship. This project has two components: first we establish a methodology to ‘measure’ such asymmetries and help organizations to single out the relationships where there is evidence of it. Second, we investigate how different types of asymmetries affect the operational and business performance of both organizations.

Staff: Prof. Mohan Sodhi, Dr. Canan Kocabasoglu-Hillmer, and Dr. Byung-Gak Son

Combining Forecasts

This theme is concerned with improving the accuracy of forecasts by combining forecasts that are derived from methods that are different fundamentally and/or use different sources of information. Lilian M. de Menezes leads this theme.  

Active projects include:

Development of a Non-linear Encompassing Test

Description: An alternative framework for selecting inputs for combining forecasts in the case of non-linear models is investigated. Application is in forecasting price volatility.

Staff: Prof. Lilian M. de Menezes

Structural Combinations of Forecasts

Description:  A forecast combination (ensemble) is proposed where the structure of the models is taken into account and not just the individual forecasts of the participating models. Applications are in forecasting electricity demand and wind power.

Staff: Prof. Lilian M. de Menezes and Prof. Mohan Sodhi

Energy markets

This theme investigates a range of topics in energy markets, from price volatility and liquidity in liberalised electricity and gas markets to more general studies of market integration in Europe. The aim is to inform policy makers as well as market participants. Large databases of prices in different markets and econometric and/or statistical modelling are used. The impact of regulation and other external factors are also considered. Prof. Lilian de Menezes leads this theme.

Management practices and performance: links with well-being, employee attitudes and performance

Projects include large empirical studies that draw from different theories and address the potential impacts of high performance work systems, flexible working, lean and quality managements. Uses of bundles as well as separate practices are analysed using different data and statistical methodologies. Prof. Lilian M. de Menezes leads this theme.