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ISD have developed SPARRA Version 3 from a patient-level dataset which combines information on an individual's:

  • Hospital inpatient admissions
  • Community dispensed prescriptions
  • Emergency Department (ED) attendances
  • New outpatient attendances
  • Psychiatric inpatient admissions.

The new tool allows SPARRA scores to be calculated for 4.2 million individuals in Scotland. Moreover, 95% of patients experiencing an emergency hospital admission during a year appear in the enhanced SPARRA cohort. This compares with 40% for the previous SPARRA 'All Ages' (Version 2) algorithm.

A key feature of Version 3 is the division of the SPARRA cohort into three sub-cohorts: Frail Elderly, Long Term Conditions, and Younger Emergency Department. These sub-cohorts each have their own specific set of risk factors tailored to the characteristics of these particular populations.

Following development, piloting and implementation during 2010 and 2011, SPARRA Version 3 went live in January 2012. Further development work included automating the SPARRA process during 2013 to allow SPARRA reports, that were previously produced quarterly, to be produced monthly. This went live in September 2013 allowing for more timely access.

Details of the development of the SPARRA Version 3 algorithm, describing the methodology, data sources use, risk factors identified, and model performance can be found in A Report on the Development of SPARRA Version 3 Download PDF file [161KB].

In 2009, the Scottish Government’s ‘Improving the Health and Wellbeing of People with Long Term Conditions in Scotland: A National Action Plan’ committed ISD to expand the cohort for whom a risk score can be estimated beyond those with a recent hospital admission.

The primary objectives of this development were to:

  • widen the SPARRA cohort to allow risk scores to be derived for more patients, and for patients from lower risk strata who may benefit from early preventative interventions. These individuals may be at an earlier stage in the development of their condition(s) prior to potentially entering a cycle of admission and readmission. Identifying such patients allows health services to plan and provide appropriate interventions that should help reduce emergency admissions and/or reduce hospital length of stay.
  • Improve the discriminatory power of the algorithm (i.e. improve the tool’s ability to correctly identify individuals at risk of emergency admission)

SPARRA was first developed in 2006. Information on previous versions of the algorithm can be found in the Archive & Resources pages.


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