getting the grade

Houston university ranks among top of the class for best schools for the money

The University of Houston is one of the best schools for your money. Photo courtesy of University of Houston

A Houston school is among the head of the class when it comes to bang for your buck. This, according to a recent survey from College Factual, which ranked the best colleges for your money in the Southwest.

The University of Houston comes in at No. 7 on College Factual's list. Seven Texas colleges also score high marks.

Austin College in Sherman, north of Dallas, took the No. 2 spot on the list, and is the highest-ranked Texas college. Following it are Texas Tech University (No. 3), St. Mary's University in San Antonio (No. 5), Texas Lutheran University in Seguin (No. 6), Southwestern University in Georgetown (No. 8), and Trinity University in San Antonio (No. 9).

The three non-Texas colleges that joined them in the top 10?

Ranking first in the Southwest region was St. John's College in Santa Fe, followed by Oklahoma City University (No. 4) and University of Tulsa (No. 10).

To come up with the rankings, College Factual analyzed over 2,000 colleges and universities to determine which ones are best in a variety of categories, such as overall value, quality, diversity, and which schools are the best for each major.

For example, St. Mary's University, a Marist liberal arts school located on the West Side of San Antonio, earned 28 badges, and its highest-ranked major was business administration and marketing. With an average tuition cost of $26,726 and an average of 4.2 years to graduate, St. Mary's earned the No. 5 spot in the Southwest and third in Texas. The study also highlighted the school's 12-to-1 faculty to student ratio, better than the national 15-to-1 average.

Austin College, which landed ahead of St. Mary's at No. 2, is a small, private not-for-profit school that awarded 342 bachelor's degrees in 2018-2019, the report says.

"It takes about 4.1 years for the average student at Austin College to complete their degree, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $27,662," they say. "Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor's degree from the Austin College is $112,861. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket."

Much larger Texas Tech University, No. 3 in the rankings, awarded 6,599 bachelor's degrees in 2018-2019.

"You'll join some of the best and brightest minds around if you attend Texas Tech University," the report says. "The average student at Texas Tech graduates in less than 4.5 years, and it costs about $26,528 per year to attend the school. This means that the average student pays around $119,907 to get a bachelor's degree from Texas Tech. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save."

It's been a banner year for the University of Houston, which just raised a massive $1.2 billion in a recent capital campaign.

Read the entire report here.

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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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