Tutorial #12: Creating and Using Variable Fields

This tutorial builds on the template creation tutorial to show you how to make you templates even more powerful, saving you even more time, by using variable fields.

Creating and Using Variable Fields

To further expand and build on our last lesson with the templates, we will go into variable fields now. Variable fields allow you to create more custom templates as you can have some pre-defined text and some variable text per template.

  1. Launch Dragon Medical Practice Edition 4, if it isn't already open, by double clicking the desktop icon, clicking the icon on the taskbar if present, or by simply opening the start menu in windows and typing in "Dragon Medical Practice Edition," and then pressing enter

  2. Once Dragon opens, either select a profile to load or, if you have only one profile, wait for Dragon to load your profile

  3. Once Dragon is finished loading, click "Tools" on the Dragon Bar

  4. Scroll down to Command Center > Manage Custom Commands…

  5. When the Custom Command window opens, click on a command then click “Edit”

  6. Place your cursor on the location that you would like to add a variable field, and then click the "Variable" button near the bottom of the window. This will insert a [default value] that will be used as your variable field whenever the command is called on

  7. When you are finished adding variable fields, click save

Your variable fields in Dragon can contain any text that you would like, they are not limited to [default value] when inserting them within your template. Any text surrounded by square brackets will be considered a variable field. This is useful for when you have a standard report 90% of the time, but occasionally changes.

Below are two templates that you can use as examples. Simply highlight them and “make that a shortcut” to create a template. Feel free to name them as you please.

Template 1:

General: [ ].

Neurology: [ ].

Psychiatric: [ ].


Template 2:

General: [No anorexia, weight loss, fever, chills, night sweats, fatigue, or insomnia].

Neurology: [No headache, dizziness, numbness, paresthesias, ataxia, or mentation changes].

Psychiatric: [No depression, anxiety, hallucinosis, compulsions, or obsessive thoughts].


In the first template you will notice that all fields are empty and must be filled in with text in order to have anything appear. You must say “next field” or use the programmed button on your PowerMic to navigate between fields and fill out your report.

With the second one you may say “next field” to skip into the neurology field. Next say “patient reports mild headaches, dizziness and slight numbness”. The psychiatric report is unremarkable so we will not change it. At this point we will say “accept defaults” and you will see how the general and psychiatric fields remain as they are. This is a great example of when it is useful to insert text into your variable fields.

Variable fields are any text within square brackets. You may look through an old chart and add square brackets around areas you want variables and simply turn it into a template by saying “make that a shortcut”.