A stochastic model for a visit to the doctor's office
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This paper presents a stochastic model of an individual patient's experience during a visit to a doctor's office. The stochastic model is based on tracking the visit of patients at a local family practice clinic. A rigorous, iterative procedure for model development allows the stochastic model to be constructed, evaluated, and validated to establish consistency with both the theoretical stochastic assumptions and the clinic's actual operating environment. This model extends the use of stochastic models in health care in two important respects. First, the stochastic model represents an application of semi-Markov processes in outpatient health care settings. Second, through the use of the infinitesimal generator associated with the transition probability matrices governing patient flow, numerical predictions for first passage times are easily obtained. 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.