Operations research meets need related planning: Approaches for locating general practitioners' practices

Melanie Reuter-Oppermann*, Stefan Nickel, Jost Steinhäuser

*Corresponding author for this work


Background In most western countries a shortage of general practitioners (GP) exists. Newly qualified GPs often prefer to work in teams rather than in single-handed practices. Therefore, new practices offering these kinds of working conditions will be attractive in the future. From a health care point of view, the location planning of new practices will be a crucial aspect. In this work we studied solutions for locating GP practices in a defined administrative district under different objectives. Methods Using operations research (OR), a research discipline that originated from logistics, different possible locations of GP practices were identified for the considered district. Models were developed under two main basic requirements: that one practice can be reached by as many inhabitants as possible and to cut down the driving time for every district's inhabitant to the next practice location to less than 15 minutes. Input data included the demand (population), driving times and the current GP locations. Results Three different models were analysed ranging from one single practice solution to five different practices. The whole administrative district can reach the central community “A” in at most 23 minutes by car. Considering a maximum driving time of 15 minutes, locations in four different cities in the district would be sufficient. Conclusion Operations research methods can be used to determine locations for (new) GP practices. Depending on the concrete problem different models and approaches lead to varying solutions. These results must be discussed with GPs, mayors and patients to find robust locations regarding future developments.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0208003
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01.2019

Research Areas and Centers

  • Research Area: Center for Population Medicine and Public Health (ZBV)


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