Mobile healthcare services in rural areas: An application with periodic location routing problem
In this study, we focus on the delivery of mobile healthcare services in rural areas, where doctors visit remote villages which do not have a healthcare facility nearby. The aim is to increase the accessibility of healthcare services for such population centers. We aim to determine the village assignments of the doctors, their monthly visit schedules and base hospitals where they start and end their tours. We model this as a periodic location routing problem and use the policies of Ministry of Health of Turkey as a basis for our mathematical formulation. These policies include the essential components of mobile healthcare services, namely, continuity of care and determining evenly distributed periodic visits. We determine the visit schedules, i.e. routes, of doctors endogenously while satisfying these policies. We also develop a heuristic algorithm based on a cluster first-route second approach and solve larger instances more effectively. The computational experiments support that this solution methodology can effectively find optimal or near-optimal solutions and improve the computational times significantly.