While the State of Alaska now has a fancy new dynamic tool to find providers it wasn’t always like that. In fact the Non-Certified Providers, Care Coordination and PCA lists were generated for posting to the website monthly by me. Below are how I built the lists:
My original domain was not complicated. It was going to be a simple WordPress website. One place to house everything. Then everything changed. I decided I needed a place to write tutorials, another to work on a hand coded site and a third area to explore other hand coding adventures. The result is a complex set of interconnected websites as diagrammed to the left.
Why diagram a website? I chose to diagram this one because of it’s complex nature and the fact that it morphed from one basic site into several. I wanted places to do side projects which keep me busy. I finished the Learning Site which is an extension of my portfolio and adds detail to my resume, lots of detail.
I plan to find the files for Lady Code Monkey and resume work on the list of things I wanted to do to that site next.
Oh, I forgot a site or two on here… my Goals site where I randomly blog about goals and my life along with my Photography site which I do for fun. I take photos of the natural world up here in Alaska… never know when a moose will pose.
Please keep in mind this was one of many drafts I did for the process but it serves well to show the level of detail I put into my writing. It is now an old procedure and has no HIPPA violations as Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse House and Acme are NOT real but were used frequently as test records in the database system. Please also note that DS3 is no longer used by the State of Alaska as well. Yes, it is very long (80 pages) but the final version was almost 200 pages and then it was discarded by management.
This is simply to demonstrate my writing.
Does your workplace have a fun faux-policy of giving unofficial titles. Yeah, we all have “job titles” but I’m talking the fun ones.
I have decided I am tired of the generic boring resumes and after looking at my skills and experience 60+ times and refining my resume more than that I am going to go more creative with the document.
I plan to edit and add to this XML resume in the coming days and weeks, for now this is a nice skeleton hand developed and coded.
<?xml version=”1.0 encoding=”UTF-8″ ? >
Technical Writer, software Documentation, Software Support
Sue is a master of software applications both old and new. She enjoys both learning new applications and teaching other how to use those applications via written and illustrated tutorials documentation and chat.
XML, JSON, HTML, CSS
Microsoft Office, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Libre Office, Google Docs & Spreadsheets
DITA, Scapple, Scrivener<Scribus, Publisher
Corel Draw, Inkscape, Gimp
Present information to technical and non-technical users
Digital Verbal & Written Communication
Alaska Office Specialists<\company>
5+ Websites are demonstrations of website coding, writing and maintenance
Author, illustrate and diagram 10+ instructions & articles written with an end user in mind
Author XML documents
Technical Writer, Published Author
Sue’s Tiny Costumes<\company>
Published author of 2 books with articles in 4 magazines ~ “Pattern Drafting for Miniatures” & “Pattern Making for Dolls”, International Doll Magazine”, “Doll Castle News”, “Dolls, Bears & Anywears”, & “Dolls In Miniature “
Alaska Coalition for Telehealth & TeleMedicine<\company>
Participate in discussions on regulations and effects of Telehealth and Telemedicine in Alaska
Senior Services Technician
State of Alaska<\company>
66% increase in workflow via macro design, programming, development and implementation
Computer Instructor & Career Development Mentor
Nine Star Education & Employment<\company>
50% improved time management; reduce management’s information systems data entry
Bachelors of Science Business Management & Information Technology
At the start of my time with the State of Alaska I was a Administrative Clerk. As a clerk I was placed in charge of archiving old files to make space for current files. This was a monumental task that had not been tackled in several years so there were 20+ boxes to start with. Based on the Archive Guidelines I developed a simplified chart to help me sort the files.
Over the course of 9.5 years I and the teams of MASST (Mature Alaskans Seeking Skills Training) and DVR (Department of Vocational Rehabilitation) participants along with a non-perm Office Assistant archived over 3,500 files. I was involved in all the aspects of hiring, training and day to day leadership of these individuals.
One of the training tools I used to assist everyone who was helping with the massive project included the following guide.
In the process of doing this it became known that no matter how many closed files I archived and sent off site there would never be enough space for the ever expanding files that were open. It was then determined that we also needed to categorize the open files for archiving as well. There was no guidelines to do this at the time and so in talking to the head of the archives we determined that we needed to collaborate with my management to setup the mechanisms to archive open files.
There were many types of both open and closed providers as detailed below. The categories assisted in retrieving files for quality assurance and compliance investigations over the years. Our oldest files were so old that the early volumes dated back into the 1990’s when Senior Services was founded! It was fantastic to get so many old files offsite and out of our over full file cabinets. It also reduced injuries (I was injured by the drawers being too full) and reduced fire risks. Once older files were offsite archives was able to either store the files or add them to micro film or scan them for DVD backup media.
I love planning things and tracking things and so over time I’ve had fun creating my own systems for tracking and planning a variety of lists and projects. Some are purely fun like the “Miracles” note pad and others are incredibly useful like the daily and weekly planners or the project pages. Other things like the Turtle sheet tracked where a file was migrating to while maintaining HIPAA in the office.
©Sue Darby as these are my creations.
Oct/Nov 05 Issue 89
1st place Alaska State Fair
Jan/Feb 05 Issue 86
Dec 05/Jan 06 Issue 90
Apr/May 05 Issue 87
Dec 04 Issue 85
Aug/Sep 05 Issue 88
Some of these are MindMaps and others are UMLs. I discovered Mind Maps first and then was trained at work for creating UML or Universal Modeling Language “mind maps”. I LOVE creating both and this is only a very tiny portion of the mind maps and UMLs I’ve done!
The checklist started as a reviewer’s tool to help track all the basic items needed for an application. From a general Word document to a manual show and hide system in Excel to the automated system developed in 2014 by a colleague. When he retired a year later I was tasked with the continual update of the tool. I have made multiple changes to the vb.net code behind the check boxes and also used it as inspiration for other tools. It is used on a daily basis with the 30-50 apps I process each month.
It has a tool now for printing the worksheets by name which in addition to the checklist customized for each application includes a worksheet for the background check requirement. It is also more diligently commented in the code to allow others to know where and how to update it. During one update additional space was allowed behind the scenes for future changes. There are over 1000 lines of code and it generally takes a day or so of uninterrupted time to do a full change and edit to the system. Small changes are faster. There is a chance that another manual list will be integrated later this year as regulations change.
The Checklist went through another major change process in December 2017, just before I left. Since only I knew how to maintain the original I was asked to create a simplified variation that my remaining team mates could take care of in the future. I based my new checklist off of another project I’d done in the spring, the Compliance Checklist.
This was an incredibly complex project I was asked to help with initially and it became my “baby” after a while.
The whole purpose of the project was to track the results of on site reviews for Medicaid compliance. The project had completed a Survey Monkey survey and was struggling to compile and output letters after additional on site reviews had been completed. I took the survey results and the additional questions that the team needed and turned it into a multi sheet Excel, one for each site (1200 or so site based providers and equal that in Spreadsheets).
The first sheet was an import of the PDF from the survey so it was clear which site was being reviewed. The second sheet contained a macro driven questionnaire for the Compliance Team to use for reviews. The third sheet compiled the data entered into the second sheet and combined it with provider name, number and address information and was used for the first round of mail outs via email as well as merging the data to a form based PDF. The last sheet compiled additional compliance data as a way to determine what additional letters were needed.
The second piece of this project was a series of 8 letters, the initial letter telling them the results of their visit and an additional 6 for various levels of compliance plus one certifying the acceptance of the changes made during the process. These were all written in Word which was then used to do mail merged letters one at a time. From there the letter was converted to PDF and fill in form fields were added.
Adobe DC and Outlook do not do mail merges well and so a secondary Excel spreadsheet system was developed to assist with creating the emails and attaching the PDFs to emails. This system used a contact name, email, file name for the PDF and a static programmed instructional message for the body of the email.
Given that I worked on the functionality of the whole system solo and had no budget, I did however have tight timelines as the site reviews were in full swing when I was asked to tackle the project. I am forever grateful to my office mate who tested several times a day for me and offered invaluable feedback on the needed functionality.
The first run of the full project was tested in house and the Provider Certification & Compliance team was gracious enough to put up with and even make up data to help test the system for me and allow me to work out bugs. The first live test was 300 merges and mailings and out of that only 8 bounced all of which were because of a provider changing their email contact and not notifying the State of the change.
This process was used to generate another 3-5 rounds of emails in order to get the 1200 or so providers all in compliance with the regulations.
In addition to designing and developing the process from end to end, I also built a procedure manual for it and provided the team with training. A tool to track incoming responses was also built and generated reports for management.
All the macros were written in .Net. Only the actual mail merge portion is shown below. The Compliance Tool is on another page.
In 2011 my employer lost a legal case based on a simple reason: the documents were not date stamped. I remembered a couple years before dropping off paperwork and the office had a machine that my packet had gone on to, zipped through and out of curiosity I asked the clerk what the machine was. It was a date stamper, so I suggested we procure the same type of machine. Since it was my idea management agreed happily and asked me to do the research on machines, features and costs. I came back with a simple machine that would print a short line of text and the current or a programmed date. Exactly what we needed.
A process was developed so that everyone knew how to use the machine correctly and for several years and several hundred thousand pages the machine worked perfectly. Basic maintenance kept it going until it needed a full refurbish. I again sought permission for sending the machine for repair after finding out timelines and costs. Meanwhile we had to keep up with the date stamping some other way. I tried a funky trick with Word and footers that was bad and finally settled on using Adobe Pro. I had one of the very few copies of Adobe everyone else had Adobe Reader at the time. After a few minutes of exploring the options (I’d only had the software for a few days at the time) I found a way to add footers to all the pages of a document quickly, then I found the Workflows and automated it. Finally I presented my solution to management who again enthusiastically gave the green light to use the tricks I’d learned.
It wasn’t long until everyone else received an upgrade to Adobe DC, an enterprise edition of Adobe that has all the bells and whistles. I exported my workflow, sent it around to the team and now everyone can use either the machine which is up and running smoothly or they can use the Adobe Workflow.
The next major process improvement was for only part of the team and a specific project but it saves a lot of time. The basics of the process is to compare 2 or sometimes more documents for differences. This was being done manually, on paper and was taking a very long time when the project was on a very tight deadline.
Not long after this portion of the project was getting underway Adobe DC received an update with some new features. Being the sort who likes to know what software does I’d played with the feature of comparing documents, thought it was cool and filed the idea away in memory.
While chatting with my new office mate I found out what exactly she was doing, manually comparing documents so I described the new tool, showed it off briefly as it was late on a Friday, and left for home. Much to everyone’s delight the new tool was adopted Monday morning and has saved the team roughly 88% of their time on that not so small portion of the project.
In the spring of 2017 I was asked to take on extra duties to support the compliance side of the unit more and the first thing I was tasked with was combining a cumbersome set of tools into something more cohesive and easier to manage. Being an Excel fan when it comes to multiple tools in one file I setup a checklist based on the Certification Checklist with show and hide functions for questions that are met or not met in the compliance realm. A little research for the vb.net code and within a day or so I had a functional first draft which was taken into the world for testing. A few tweaks and it was ready for the full process. It is still a work in progress as of June 2017 as the Remediation portion of the process is still being developed but the workbook is ready for the challenge of merging the collected data into notices come July thanks to a transpose function.
This tool built to support the Settings changes was one of many tools used to gather the data that helped push legislation to make change. One of the services this tool collects data for is Supported Employment which typically underpays the clients significantly but as of April 2018 that is no longer the case. Alaska now has legislation for Equal Pay for the Disabled and they are paid at least minimum wage now!
Created an interim data tracking system using SharePoint to measure the time frames for processing applications. The in-house database did not have this function. I trained co-workers in use of various views and troubleshoot system as necessary as site
admin. Team efficacy improvement 74%.
System is used for generating reports on where applications and changes are in the processes. This system is being used as inspiration and a guide for building new reports within the Harmony System.
The below is the technical documentation (as images) used for training my supervisor and co-workers. The system was decommissioned in early 2018.
The State has several types of providers who were previously “invisible” to management statistically. We knew they exist but really did not know exactly who they were or where the clients were. Frequently, the clients served were placed in a wrong environment and all sorts of havoc would happen when something went wrong.
My supervisor was agonizing over the issue one afternoon and I could hear her snarling to herself in her office across from me. After a while of listening I decided to take a break from my own work to see if there was anything I could possibly do to help.
She explained that there’d been an incident and she felt helpless to have prevented it because of a lack of data available internally. She had no idea where the clients lived or who the home contracted with that was supposed to be providing oversight.
As she explained the dilemma, I sympathized and promised to think a bit about the issue.
Being the geek I am, I thought first of an Excel system but realized it’d be cumbersome to keep updated. We needed something to be built into a current system that was consistently used and updated. I immediately thought of our current “DS3” database that housed everything and the different connections used in it. Further reflection gave me a flash of insight and an idea. The system connected our Care Coordinators to their parent agency why couldn’t we do the same thing for this type of contracted home?
Of course this brilliant flash came at 3 pm on a Friday with not enough time to really sit and think on much but over the coming months I would be brought into multiple meetings with IT and management to explain to both my idea.
In October 2013 the idea became a reality and I was called upon to send out a formal Records Request to the providers that were identified and ask for information to fill in our database gaps. I am still currently tasked with updating this sizable chunk of data as the state moves forward towards a new system.
I discovered that a public search tool was broken due to recent regulation changes and database updates. It is a crucial tool for clients to use to find providers of services and our providers use to market or find other providers to help clients as well.
I was tasked with building the requirements document to fix the issue and improve the results generated as I understood what the providers, Quality Assurance, Provider Certification and the clients all needed and could explain it to the IT folks in language they understood. The result is an improved search tool that provides the data all stakeholders need to do their work.
The State of Alaska or any government is really inefficient at saving money. At the start of my state service one of the first things I had to do was a Records Request for the Department of Law. This included gathering a decade of hard copy file folders and manually copying every page in each folder.
While busily monitoring the copier since it broke frequently and ensuring that nothing was double sided and thus would have to be copied and inserted separately, I started thinking about how much paper and toner along with the wear on the machine this was having and how much it had to cost just for this portion of the request. My figures were staggering just to me as it was a case of paper ($40-60) at the end and many man hours ($14/hrX15+hrs) to prep it all plus the cost of toner (each cartridge for the copier comes in at about $700 each color) and even electricity (probably the least of the costs) to do everything.
Then came the shock of how much it would cost to get it to Fairbanks overnight. More than $200 just in shipping. I knew there had to be a better way.
When the next request came in a few weeks later, I approached my supervisor and asked about simply scanning and burning the results to CD ($20 for a large stack) and mailing that to Fairbanks ($10). I pointed out it was far less expensive to mail and the lawyers could print the relevant portions of the file for the case easily.
She agreed to talk to our Attorney General and ask. The answer came back, “lets try it”. For a couple years we were able to do the CD thing and saved a lot of wear and paper not to mention shipping costs. Then there was a HIPAA breach, no not anything I did but a co-worker had a problem with a laptop and all CD burning was turned off.
Back to trying to figure out how to get files to our AG. We were using a plugin called You-Send-It for secure email. Perfect! Scan, zip and send. EEK! The files were too big. So IT procured a copy of AdobePro for me so that I can split files. YAY! Small file size, doesn’t overtax the servers. Then we stopped using You-Send-It and went to Direct Secure Mail (DSM).
With DSM we recently learned that it fills up fast with attachments so it has been OKed by the AG that normal email for the files We’re sending is perfectly fine.
Over 6 years, I’ve lost count of the number of requests I’ve fulfilled, at least 6-10 per year all in the 200+ page count category. One thing I do know is that I HAVE saved the State of Alaska a lot of money by developing the procedure of scanning and emailing records requests for non-client based files.
When we had a change of regulations in 2013, that prompted a big change in our database, which in turn broke a few things including a web based interactive search tool. This was the business document I was asked to develop upon my discovery of the broken tool. It not only fixed the issue, it added some improved functionality that the division had wanted for a couple years.
Update: The changes to the Provider Search Tool are complete and can be seen live on the Senior & Disabilities Website. Additional changes have also been made to the Submit Corrections form as well recently.
123 Bozo, Anchorage, AK 99666
Geographical Area Served
Anchorage South Central
ALI APDD CCMC IDD
Chore Respite Transportation Personal Care Attendant Residential Supported Living
Person 1, Person 2
Search based on
Provider Name (text box search)
City (physical) (drop down)
Geographical Area served (drop down) Secondary area? (drop down)
Waivers spelled out (drop down)
Services (drop down)
Providers who return results should have:
Current end dates
All Active services
Show agents and/or renderers
Show waivers served
Show all services provided
Show mailing address
Do not show:
Provider Status is active end date is June 30 2013 should not show
Service status is active end date is May 31-2013 should not show
Can we get an internal report to tell us who this type of agency is so they can be corrected?