Optimal testing policies for diagnosing patients with intermediary probability of disease

Artif Intell Med. 2019 Jun:97:89-97. doi: 10.1016/j.artmed.2018.11.005. Epub 2018 Dec 5.


This paper proposes a stochastic shortest path approach to find an optimal sequence of tests to confirm or discard a disease, for any prescribed optimality criterion. The idea is to select the best sequence in which to apply a series of available tests, with a view at reaching a diagnosis with minimum expenditure of resources. The proposed approach derives an optimal policy whereby the decision maker is provided with a test strategy for each a priori probability of disease, aiming to reach posterior probabilities that warrant either immediate treatment or a not-ill diagnosis.

Keywords: Diagnosis; Healthcare problems; Stochastic shortest path.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Probability*
  • Stochastic Processes