Adobe Lightroom (and, I believe, Apple's Aperture) allows you to store develop presets as one-click actions, and even to apply them automatically on import. One of the settings in Lightroom is called 'recovery', which will pull back lost detail from highlights, effectively increasing the dynamic range of the original. You can get about 1/2 stop of extra detail using this method. Additionally, depending on the quality of the camera's sensor and its low light performance, you may be able to boost the 'fill light' which will bring out detail in the darker areas of the photograph, though this tends to introduce noise (though it should be said that Lightroom 3's noise reduction is excellent).
If you defined a preset to apply these two modifications to images on import, then you could export them to JPG directly, which may provide what you are looking for.
Obviously the term 'better' is subjective as Matt suggests, but from your question I am assuming you are looking to squeeze as much dynamic range as possible from a single RAW file.