Case Detail

Case Summary

Announcing Waiting Time in Emergency Departments

Case Number: 5-417-750, Year Published: 2019

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Authors: Martin Lariviere; Sarang Deo

Key Concepts

Health Care, Operations Management, Service Management, Service Strategy, Statistical Methods


First National Healthcare (FNH) runs a large network of hospitals and has worked to systematically reduce waiting times in its emergency departments. One of FNH's regional networks has run a successful marketing campaign promoting its low ED waiting times that other regions want to emulate. The corporate quality manager must now determine whether to allow these campaigns to be rolled out and, if so, which waiting time estimates to use. Are the numbers currently being reported accurate? Is there a more accurate way of estimating patient waiting time that can be easily understood by consumers?

Learning Objectives

After students have analyzed the case, they will be able to understand some of the complexities in estimating waiting times in queues, particularly in dynamic settings such as emergency departments. Specifically, they will see that the simple moving averages proposed in the case do not work well. In addition, the process of building a model allows for a discussion of the tradeoff between accuracy and simplicity in the eyes of patients.

Number of Pages: 6

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Operations

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: United States

Industry: Hospitals

Organization Name: Fictional

Organization Department: Quality Assurance

Organization Size: Large

Decision Maker Position: Vice President of Quality Assurance

Decision Maker Gender: Female