Machine learning for optimal test admission in the presence of resource constraints

Ramy Elitzur*, Dmitry Krass, Eyal Zimlichman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Developing rapid tools for early detection of viral infection is crucial for pandemic containment. This is particularly crucial when testing resources are constrained and/or there are significant delays until the test results are available – as was quite common in the early days of Covid-19 pandemic. We show how predictive analytics methods using machine learning algorithms can be combined with optimal pre-test screening mechanisms, greatly increasing test efficiency (i.e., rate of true positives identified per test), as well as to allow doctors to initiate treatment before the test results are available. Our optimal test admission policies account for imperfect accuracy of both the medical test and the model prediction mechanism. We derive the accuracy required for the optimized admission policies to be effective. We also show how our policies can be extended to re-testing high-risk patients, as well as combined with pool testing approaches. We illustrate our techniques by applying them to a large data reported by the Israeli Ministry of Health for RT-PCR tests from March to September 2020. Our results demonstrate that in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic a pre-test probability screening tool with conventional RT-PCR testing could have potentially increased efficiency by several times, compared to random admission control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-300
Number of pages22
JournalHealth Care Management Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Data analytics
  • Machine learning
  • Optimal test admission policies
  • Predictive analytics


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