UMC Business Department
UM Crookston
Project Title: 
Utilizing Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics to Schedule Language Interpreters at a Medical Center

Although most hospitals in the United States provide medical services in English, a significant percentage of the population uses languages other than English. In most hospitals, an interpreting department is responsible for securing interpreters for patients who cannot speak English or who have limited English proficiency (LEP). This includes inpatient, outpatient, and emergency patients. Hospitals usually employ full-time and part-time interpreters to cover the demands of LEP patients.

There are two main challenges facing an interpreting department:

  • There are many interpreting agencies in the market from which part-time interpreters can be chosen from. Therefore, selecting part-time interpreters with the best service quality and lowest hourly rate makes the scheduling process difficult.
  • The arrival of LEP emergency patients must be predicted to make sure that LEP emergency patients are covered and to avoid any service delay.

To overcome these challenges, this research proposes a framework for scheduling full-time and part-time interpreters for medical centers. The framework is composed of two phases. First, the researchers develop a prediction model to forecast LEP patient demand at the emergency department. Next, they develop a multi-objective integer programming model (MOIP) model to assign interpreters to inpatient, outpatient, and emergency LEP patients. The goal is to minimize the total interpreting cost and maximize both the quality of the interpreting service and the utilization of full-time interpreters. Various experiments are conducted to show the robustness and practicality of the proposed framework. The schedules generated by this model are compared with the schedules generated by the interpreting department of the hospital. The results show that this model produces better schedules with respect to all three objectives.

Project Investigators

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