Using AutoHotkey Scripts to Perform Voice-Commanded Calculations for Dictated Radiology Reports

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Conference Proceeding

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Background Radiologists often perform simple calculations for dictated reports such as right ventricular to left ventricular (RV/LV) ratio on CT pulmonary angiography. Such calculations generally require a conventional calculator to ensure arithmetic accuracy. Performing these calculations can be a point of frustration for the radiologist, who frequently must fumble for their mobile phone or navigate to the desktop calculator application to complete the calculation. Using a conventional calculator interrupts the flow of dictation and is ultimately distracting and time-consuming for the radiologist.

Educational Goals / Teaching Points Using AutoHotkey, a Windows-based scripting language for task automation, we wrote a script that automatically interprets dictated single-operator arithmetic calculations within the dictation window, performs the calculation, and replaces the dictated text with the calculated result. This presentation will briefly introduce AutoHotkey, explain how our “Calculator.ahk” script works, and describe how the radiologist can incorporate this tool into their workflow.

Key Anatomic/Physiologic Issues and Imaging Findings/Techniques AutoHotkey scripts are particularly advantageous to the radiologist because they can be run from an external flash drive and they do not require installing software to the workstation. Our calculator script streamlines the dictation for the radiologist by automatically performing calculations when recognized in the dictation window. At our institution, the calculator is a useful tool for effortlessly calculating RV/LV ratio, prostate volume, and PSA density, among other applications. In addition to saving the radiologist time and headache involved with using a conventional calculator, the voice-commanded calculator removes the opportunity for input error inherent with a button-driven calculator.

Conclusion Performing calculations in the middle of a dictated report can be a point of frustration for the radiologist and cause significant disruption to their workflow. AutoHotkey scripting enables the easy integration of voice-commanded calculations within the dictation window. This tool saves the radiologist time, removes the potential for input error, and allows the radiologist to focus on what matters most — the patient. Synthesizing the accuracy of modern dictation software with the power of AutoHotkey opens up a world of possibilities to streamline workflows for the radiologist. In addition to performing basic calculations through dictation, other readily programmable scripts include voice-commanded web searching, paging, and phone calling, among many other applications.