Creating short-term volume flexibility in healthcare capacity management
Journal article, 2020

It is well-known that unpredictable variations in supply and demand capacity in healthcare systems create the need for flexibility. The main tools used to create short-term volume flexibility in the healthcare system include overtime, temporary staff from internal calling lists, moving staff across units, internal staffing pools, external staffing agencies, queuing patients, and purchasing care from external providers. We study the creation of short-term volume flexibility in healthcare systems to manage short-term capacity losses. A questionnaire was developed and distributed among department managers in the Region Västra Götaland healthcare system. Respondents were asked to what extent they used each tool to create short-term flexibility in capacity. Data were analyzed using multiple regression analysis. Several significant tendencies were found, including that acute units use overtime and internal staffing pools to a larger extent, and patient queues and external providers to a smaller extent than planned units. The prerequisites and required managerial approaches used to manage aggregate capacity in the system efficiently differ substantially between different parts of the system. These differences must be addressed when, for example, capacity pools are considered. These results serve as a steppingstone towards a more thorough understanding of efficient capacity management in healthcare systems.

Swedish healthcare

capacity planning

volume flexibility

healthcare management


Carina Fagefors

Sahlgrenska University Hospital

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Innovation and R&D Management

Björn Lantz

University West

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Innovation and R&D Management

Peter Rosén

University of Gothenburg

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

1661-7827 (ISSN) 1660-4601 (eISSN)

Vol. 17 22 1-18 8514

Capacity pooling in health care systems

Jan Wallanders och Tom Hedelius stiftelse, 2018-01-01 -- 2021-12-31.

Subject Categories

Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy

Transport Systems and Logistics

Business Administration

Areas of Advance

Life Science Engineering (2010-2018)



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