The use of queueing and simulative analyses to improve an overwhelmed pharmacy call center

T. Eugene Day, W. Max Li, Armann Ingolfsson, Nathan Ravi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Like many others, the St. Louis Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) Pharmacy help desk receives far more calls than can be processed by current staffing levels. The objective of the study is to improve pharmaceutical services provided by the call center, by using queueing theory and discrete event dynamic simulation to analyze incoming telephone traffic to the help desk. Queueing and simulation models using both archival and hand-gathered data over a 1-year period were created, compared, and presented in order to determine the minimum quantities of staff needed to reach the desired service threshold. The simulation model was validated in comparison with real-world data. Results suggest that telephone traffic congestion in this setting may be alleviated by increasing the number of staff responsible for telephone services from 2 to 6 throughout the week, with an additional one serving on Monday. Both queueing and simulative models can be used to improve overwhelm pharmacy call centers, by determining the theoretical minimal staff needed to reach a service threshold.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-495
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Pharmacy Practice
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • optimization
  • pharmacy
  • queueing theory
  • simulation
  • telephone service


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