Report card

See where Texas falls among best states, according to a recent report

We're more so the worst than the best, a study finds. Photo by gguy44/Getty Images

How does Texas measure up to the rest of the United States? A new study comparing the 50 U.S. states in terms of healthcare, education, the economy, and numerous other factors shows that we aren't the worst state in the country, but we're certainly not the best, either.

Texas ranks 38th overall in U.S. News & World Report's best states rankings for 2019, down two spots from 2018. Washington takes the top spot, while Louisiana has the misfortune of being in last place.

For the study, U.S. News asked Americans "how satisfied they were with various state government services and where they thought their state governments should focus resources." The site took those results and rated each state on the areas above, as well as infrastructure, opportunity, fiscal stability, crime and corrections, and natural environment. The most weight was given to healthcare, followed by education.

The Lone Star State, which is home to many notable companies (AT&T, Southwest Airlines, Whole Foods, Dell, and others), ranks best in fiscal stability (No. 12) and economy (No. 15).

America's oil boom in the early 1900s transformed Texas, and the state continues to be a key player in the industry, as well as a leading destination for business, the study explains.

"Texas' diverse industrial base has drawn many businesses and workers in recent decades because of light regulation, low taxes and a low cost of labor," U.S. News says. "Entrepreneurs are particularly attracted to Austin, which emerged as a major player in the technology industry in the 1990s. Its 'South by Southwest' is one of the preeminent national tech conferences."

What else is working in Texas? "Traditionally, agriculture has been among the state's largest industries, and it produces the most livestock and livestock product in the country," the study adds. "The state also is a leader in export revenues, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Other industries driving growth include business, education and health, hospitality and manufacturing."

Texas, however, could stand to improve in many areas: infrastructure (33), crime and corrections (33), education (34), healthcare (37), opportunity (39), and natural environment (40).

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

Meet MIA — Houston Methodist's new voice technology assistant. Photo via Getty Images

Hey, MIA. Start surgery.

These are the words Houston doctors are learning to say in the operating rooms, thanks to a first-of-its-kind voice technology developed by the Houston Methodist's Center for Innovation in collaboration with Amazon Web Services. In the same way we use programs like Alexa or Siri to make our everyday tasks easier, the Methodist Intelligent Automation, or MIA, is allowing medical professionals to improve the way they interact both with technology and patients alike.

"There's been a push in the industry for a long time that people sitting behind computers and typing and staring at a computer screen is inadequate," says Houston Methodist Chief Innovation Officer Roberta Schwartz. "There's been a desire to return people back to each other rather than physicians and look at a screen and patients look at a doctor looking at a screen."

Currently in its pilot phase, MIA is working to do just that through two key functions that shift the way medical professionals work in what Schwartz calls the "era of electronic medical records."

The first is through operating room voice commands. Here medical professionals can run through a series or checklists and initiate important actions, such as starting timers or reviewing time of anesthesia, through voice instead of by typing or clicking, which can become cumbersome during lengthy and highly detailed surgeries. Information is displayed on a large 80-inch TV in the operating suite and following surgery all of the data captured is imported into the traditional EMR program. The technology has been prototyped in two Houston Methodist O.R. suites so far and the hub aims to trial it in a simulation surgery by the end of the year.

Additionally, the hub is developing ambient listening technology to be used in a clinical setting with the same goal. Houston Methodist and AWS have partnered with Dallas-based Pariveda to create specialized hardware that (after gaining patient permission) will listen into doctor-patient conversations, transcribe the interaction, and draft a note that is then coded and imported directly into the EMR.

"For EMR the feedback is that it's clunky, it's click-heavy, it's very task oriented," says Josh Sol, who leads digital and clinical innovation for Houston Methodist. "Our goal with the Center for Innovation and this technology hub is to really transform that terminology and bring back this collaboration and the patient-physician relationship by removing the computer but still capturing all the pertinent information."

The ambient listening technology is further off and is currently in user acceptance testing with clinicians.

"They've had some great feedback, whether it's changing how the note is created, changing the look and feel of the application itself," Sol adds. "All feedback is good feedback at this point. So we've taken it in, we prioritize the work, and we continue to improve the application."

And the hub doesn't plan to stop there. Schwartz and Sol agree that the next step for this type of medical technology will be patient facing. They envision that in the near future appointment or surgery prep can be done through Alexa push notifications and medication reminders or follow up assessments could be done via voice applications.

"It's all going to be of tremendous value and it's coming," Schwartz says. "We may be taking the first baby steps, but each one of these voice technologies for our patients is out there on the horizon."

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