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NHS National Services Scotland ISD Scotland & NHS National Services Scotland


Outcomes Data

8th December 2014

New analysis on SPARRA outcomes is now available at Health Board level. This analysis compares the number of adult patients (aged 16+) who were observed to have had at least one emergency admission to an acute hospital during financial years 2012/13 and 2013/14, versus the number of adult patients (aged 16+) who were predicted by the SPARRA Version 3 model to have at least one emergency admission to an acute hospital during the same corresponding financial years 2012/13 and 2013/14.

The data is split into the three adult sub-cohorts (Frail elderly, Long term conditions, and Younger emergency department), and by SPARRA risk score decile. The observed divided by the predicted number of patients is calculated, and expressed as a percentage. The closer this value is to 100%, the closer the fit to the SPARRA model.

SPARRA outcomes data also shows the change in the total number of emergency admissions and associated bed days during financial year 2012/13 versus 2013/14. Also SPARRA outcomes data is now available at community health partnership (CHP) level, and at GP practice level.

SPARRA outcomes data are available to authorised users from

Online SPARRA Risk Score Calculator

5th December 2014

We have developed an online tool that can be used to calculate an individual’s risk score.

The purpose of developing this is to give stakeholders more transparency as to how the SPARRA risk score is calculated as we often get queries as to how a change in one or a few risk factors can affect someone’s SPARRA score.

This calculator is not intended as either an alternative to, or replacement for, the current monthly online SPARRA reports as users will lack all the data that is required to give a precise SPARRA score.

However we hope it proves helpful in letting stakeholders see how the SPARRA models work.

To access the online SPARRA Risk Score please visit: SPARRA Risk Score Calculator.

Statement re under-reporting of A&E and potential under-estimate of SPARRA risk score

11 April 2014

Generally, the more A&E attendances that a patient has had in the 12 month pre-risk prediction period, the higher a patient’s SPARRA risk score.

However, A&E attendances data are not always recorded at the patient episode level which is required for incorporation into the SPARRA model.

Information on A&E Service / Emergency Department (ED) attendances across Scotland is collected and maintained by ISD on the national data warehouse known as the A&E data mart. Data is collected on local systems, then extracted and submitted to the data mart soon after the end of each month. All sites that provide emergency care are required to submit data to the A&E data mart. There are two types of data submitted to the A&E data mart; episode and aggregate level data. The larger hospitals with ED's generally submit episode level data containing a detailed record for each attendance. Smaller sites such as Minor Injury Units (MIU) or Community hospitals generally only submit aggregate level data. The smaller sites only submit total monthly attendance figures as they do not have the information systems and support to enable collection of detailed patient based information. Consequently, detailed analysis can only be conducted on sites providing episode level data.

This means that for patients who have had any A&E attendances at a hospital that returns aggregate A&E attendances data, there is potential for an under-estimation of the patients’ SPARRA risk score (Table 1).

Boards that report all of their A&E attendances data at episode level are Forth Valley, Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Orkney, Shetland, and Tayside.

The SPARRA risk score for patients who have had no A&E attendances or who have had one or more A&E attendances at hospitals in these boards will not be affected.

Boards that report some A&E attendance data at aggregated level are Ayrshire & Arran, Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, Fife, Grampian, Highland, Lanarkshire, Lothian, and Western Isles.

The SPARRA risk score for patients who have had any A&E attendances at hospitals that aggregate data could potentially have an under-estimated SPARRA risk score (Table 1):

Table 1. A&E Attendances and SPARRA Risk Score
LTC Risk Score A&E Attendances Risk Score with A&E Attendances
25 1 32%
  4 42%
  7 50%
  10 51%

A list of all A&E sites which record A&E attendances at patient episode level ("E") and at aggregated level ("A") is published at Emergency Department Activity and Waiting Times publication data tables.

We bring this to your attention because it may be relevant when GPs use the lower threshold of 40% SPARRA risk score to select patients for an Anticipatory Care Plan (ACP) and medicine review. For example, a patient with an under-estimated risk score of e.g. 39% (that would have been e.g. 41% had their A&E data been recorded at episode level and included in the SPARRA model) may not be selected for an ACP.

Monthly SPARRA Online Released

18th September 2013

The first monthly release of SPARRA data is now available within SPARRA Online (August 2013 Data).

This release estimates an individual’s risk of emergency admission in the period 1st August 2013 to 31st July 2014.

Monthly SPARRA Online data:

  • Produces risk scores for approximately 4.2 million of Scotland’s patient population.
  • More timely access to patient risk scores - shorter wait for SPARRA data (previously produced quarterly)
  • Provides new cohort information (LTC, Young ED and Frail Elderly).
  • More detailed prescribing information.
  • Encourages ownership of your practice data, produced in the Standard QP006 report for Primary Care authorised users.

Please note: Some Power User prepared reports will not operate in the new monthly releases. These reports will need to be recreated, or you can contact the SPARRA team for assistance.

As with all previous SPARRA releases the data should be considered alongside local information. We would therefore encourage timely review of data downloaded from SPARRA online.

If you have any queries, please contact the Product Support helpline on 0131 275 7050, or by email at

SPARRA contribution recognised by the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing

21st August 2013

In July 2013, at the European Commission Star Ceremony in Brussels, Scotland was given Reference Site status for finding new ways to help older people. The award specifically highlighted the use of SPARRA in telehealth care and anticipatory care planning in the community, as part of the goal of everyone living longer, healthier lives at home or in a homely setting by 2020.

European Commissioner for Health, Tonio Borg, said "I am delighted that the people who made these 32 sites a success have come to Brussels to share their ideas and insights. It is important that such cases of how innovation is already being used to help our older citizens live healthy and active lives serves as an inspiration to us all. Large scale deployment of such solutions is the next step."

The European Commission has identified active and healthy ageing as a major societal challenge common to all European countries, and an area which presents considerable potential for Europe to lead the world in providing innovative responses to this challenge. The European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing is targeting an increase the average healthy lifespan by two years by 2020. All of the 32 award-winners across Europe have been implementing innovative technological, social or organisational solutions to enhance the efficiency of health and social care systems.  

European Commission Press Release

Anticipatory Care Planning (ACP) and Polypharmacy Review Route Map

25th July 2013

This information guides practitioners through the steps in the anticipatory care planning process and introduces tools that make it easy to identify patients with the most to gain from ACP and allow for timely sharing of information across the health and social care community.

ACP & Polypharmacy Routemap Download PDF file

Further Information can be found here:

Quality Improvement Hub - Primary and Community Care

QOF QP High Risk Patients

28th March 2013

A change to the GMS contract in Scotland has allowed new Quality and Productivity QOF indicators with the aim of improving care for patients at high risk of emergency admission to hospital through anticipatory care planning and polypharmacy.  SPARRA has been suggested as the tool which will best assist GP practices in identifying the most suitable cohort of patients for these interventions.  Further information can be found here:

SPARRA Risk Prediction Event Report

2nd October 2012

The write-up of the SPARRA Risk Prediction event that was held on 15th March can be accessed here. SPARRA Risk Prediction Event Report Download PDF file [174KB]. Within the document you will find links to the presentations and supporting information that featured during the day.

QOF QP A&E Indicators

6th June 2012

There is now a new report available in the SPARRA Online datamart - 'QOF QP A&E Attendances'. This report supports the QOF Accident and Emergency Indicators QP12-QP14. For more information please see the Scottish Guidance for QP A&E Download Word file [91KB] and ISD guidance on accessing the A&E data Download Word file [527KB] (the SPARRA data is Report 4).

For queries related to this please contact:

SPARRA Risk Prediction Event

14th February 2012

The registration form and provisional programmeDownload Word file [73KB] for the national one-day SPARRA Risk Prediction event on 15th March are now available for download. Please return the completed form to by 3rd March.

SPARRA Version 3 - January Release

2nd February 2012

The January 2012 SPARRA lists - the first to be based on the new Version 3 algorithm - are scheduled for release early this month.

For further information on the development of SPARRA Version 3 and details of how the changes to the algorithm impact users of SPARRA data, please refer to the SPARRA Version 3 web page.

SPARRA Risk Prediction Event

26th January 2012

ISD, in conjunction with the Joint Improvement Team (JIT), are organising a national one-day SPARRA - Risk Prediction event. The day will be chaired by Dr Anne Hendry, National Clinical Lead for Quality, and held at the Scottish Health Services Centre in Edinburgh on 15th March 2012.

To register an interest in the event and to receive the provisional programme and registration details as soon as they are available, please e-mail with "Event" in the subject box. Current recipients of the SPARRA newsletter will automatically receive this information.

SPARRA Version 3 - Report

27th October 2011

A report on the development of the SPARRA Version 3 algorithm detailing the methodology, data sources used, risk factors identified, and model performance is now available.

Link to report Download PDF file [161KB]

SPARRA Version 3 - Piloting Underway

15th September 2011

Development work on the new enhanced SPARRA algorithm (Version 3) is complete. This new version of SPARRA is based on a cohort of patients derived from linking hospitalisation (SMR01), prescribing, A&E, psychiatric inpatient (SMR04) and outpatient data. This will allow more patients at risk to be identified, particularly those who have not had a recent emergency inpatient admission, giving improved coverage. Furthermore, the additional historical data about each patient will improve the discriminatory power of the algorithm, offering increased accuracy.

The focus is now on piloting and implementation of the new version of the tool. A number of localities have recently received SPARRA lists, derived using the new algorithm and based on the April 2011 to March 2012 prediction year, for their review and comment. This activity is planned to complete in October. In the meantime work has commenced on the re-development of the quarterly SPARRA process in order to incorporate the additional datasets and new algorithm.

SPARRA Version 3 is planned to go live in January 2012. October 2011 will therefore be the final run of the current SPARRA “All Ages” algorithm.

SPARRA Online - Now Live

15th September 2011

User Acceptance Testing of SPARRA Online has been completed and the system is now live. Early implementers have been identified and roll-out of the system is underway.

ISD recognises that the way SPARRA Online is used will vary from Board to Board and that the support and training provided by ISD during roll-out of the system will need to be tailored to each Board's needs. The ISD SPARRA team will be in touch with all Boards/CHPs over the coming months to discuss their requirements and to support roll-out of SPARRA Online in their locality.

Enhanced SPARRA Algorithm - Update

12th April 2011

An enhanced SPARRA algorithm was developed shortly before Christmas using prescribing and hospitalisation data. Further work is now ongoing to extend this algorithm based on a longer period of prescribing history and with the possible inclusion of A&E data.

It is proposed to commence piloting of the new algorithm with a number of localities in June.

SPARRA Online - UAT Underway

12th April 2011

User Acceptance Testing of SPARRA Online is currently underway. Rollout of SPARRA Online is planned to commence on a regional basis shortly after completion of UAT. It is hoped that all Boards in Scotland will be able to access their SPARRA data using this system by the end of the year.

SPARRA Usage Survey Report Published

7th February 2011

Phase I of the SPARRA usage survey is now complete.

Some highlights:

  • 72% of respondents distribute SPARRA data to all or some GP practices
  • 30% supplement with local data on specific patient groups.

A report summarising all the main results can be found in the Use of SPARRA Download PDF file [287kb] page.

Phase II of this work, which involves follow-up with localities of interest, is now commencing. Results will be published here when available.

Main Contact: Ahmed Mahmoud

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