Top marks for Texas

Texas boasts highest starting pay in nation and more perks for workers, study says

Texas is one of the best states for jobs for many reasons. VioletaStoimenova/Getty Images

Texas is one of the most attractive states for workers, offering great starting salaries and job security, but there's still room for improvement in the Lone Star State, according to a new study.

Personal finance site WalletHub recently ranked the best and worst states for jobs in 2019, analyzing each in terms of the strength of its job market, opportunities, and economy. There's a lot of good — and surprising — news for Texas, which ranks No. 12 overall and places third in the economic environment category but 29th in the job market category.

Among the individual areas studied, Texas nabs a first-place ranking for highest monthly average starting salary ($3,331) along with the No. 14 spot in median annual income ($59,928). The Lone Star State scores well in several other areas, including its share of engaged workers (No. 5), job security (No. 6), and employment outlook (No. 13).

Texas falls in the middle in terms of disability-friendliness of employers (No. 20), availability of internships (No. 24), job opportunities (No. 27), and employment growth (No. 28).

There's more to be desired, however, across numerous aspects of working in Texas, including job satisfaction (No. 33); worker protection (No. 34); and average commute time (No. 37, clocking in at 26.1 minutes). We rank worst for length of average work week, No. 47; commuter-friendly jobs, No. 48; and employee benefits, No. 49.

Despite those downfalls, business is good in Texas. The Lone Star State recently was named one of the best states for women entrepreneurs and is home to many of the best cities for Hispanic business owners.

Massachusetts takes the No. 1 spot in this study, ranking first in job market and 16th in economic environment, while West Virginia comes in last, ranking 48th in economic environment and 49th in job market.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

Koda Health, Houston, uses AI to help guide difficult conversations in health care, starting with end-of-life care planning. Image via kodahealthcare.com

A new Houston-based digital advanced care planning company is streamlining some of the most difficult conversations in the health care industry around palliative care.

Founded by Tatiana Fafanova, Dr. Desh Mohan, and Katelin Cherry, Koda Health uses AI to help patients create advance medical care directives and documents—such as a living will—through an easy to use web-based interface.

Koda Health uses a conversational platform where users can enter information about their values, living situations, quality of life wishes, and more while learning about different care options at their own speed. It also uses a proprietary machine learning approach that personalizes audio-video guided dialogue based on the patient's individual and cultural preferences.

The app then autogenerates legal and medical documents, which patients can notarize or electronically witness the forms through the app or on their own.

According to Fafanova, who earned her PhD in in Molecular Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and now acts as the company's CEO, what historically has been a time consuming and expensive process, through Koda Health, takes an average of 17 minutes and is completely free of charge to the end user.

"We hope to reduce any outstanding barriers to access that might exist," Fafanova says. "It is very frequently the oldest and the poorest that are the highest utilizers of health care that don't have access to these solutions."

The app is also projected to save health care systems roughly $9,500 per patient per year, as it allows for hospitals and organizations to better plan for what their patient population is seeking in end-of-life-care.

The B2B platform was born out of the TMC's Biodesign Fellowship, which tasked Koda's founding members with finding solutions to issues surrounding geriatric care in the medical center. In March 2020, Koda incorporated. Not long after ICU beds began to fill with COVID-19 patients, "galvanizing" the team's mission, Fafanova says.

"It was no longer this conceptual thing that we needed to address and write a report on. Now it was that people were winding up in the hospital at alarming rates and none of those individuals had advanced care planning in place," she says.

After accelerating the development of the product, Koda Health is now being used by health care systems in Houston, Texas, and Virginia.

The company recently received a Phase I grant of $256,000 from the National Science Foundation, which will allow Koda to deploy the platform at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and test it against phone conversations with 900 patients. Fafanova says the company will also use the funds to continue to develop personalization algorithms to improve Kona's interface for users.

"We want to make this a platform that mimics a high quality conversation," she says.

After Koda completes the Phase I pilot program it will then be eligible to apply for a Phase II award of up to $1 million in about a year.

Koda Health was founded by Tatiana Fafanova, Dr. Desh Mohan, and Katelin Cherry. Photos via kodahealthcare.com

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