Disease screening facilitates the reduction of disease prevalence in two ways: (1) by preventing transmission and (2) allowing for treatment of infected individuals. Hospitals choosing an optimal screening level must weigh the benefits of decreased prevalence against the costs of screening and subsequent treatment. If screening decisions are made by multiple decision units (DU, e.g., hospital wards), they must consider the disease prevalence among admissions to their unit. Thus, the screening decisions made by one DU directly affect the disease prevalence of the other units when patients are shared. Because of this interdependent relationship, one DU may have an incentive to "free-ride" off the screening decisions of others as the disease prevalence declines. On the other hand, DUs may find it futile to invest in screening if they admit a large number of infected patients from neighbors who fail to screen properly. This problem is important in determining the optimal level of unit autonomy, since increasing a unit's level of autonomy in screening effectively increases the total number of DUs.
To analyze optimal disease screening in strategic multi-unit settings, and determine how the level of unit autonomy may effect screening decisions.