Government health officials are already priming the U.S. for a potential coronavirus outbreak, and when typical medical supplies like masks and respirators are not enough, it could be robots to the rescue. It’s times like this when medical technology can be deployed to its fullest, but what is only used for emergency purposes could or should be standard fare, according to medical experts.

“Extreme cases make us rethink how we do things,” said Dr. Robin Murphy, Raytheon professor of computer science & engineering at Texas A&M University.

Per a CNBC report, “wild ideas from the world of robotics capture attention, but health-care experts like Murphy are focused on more basic automated solutions, like seeing robots perform routine medical work for contagious patients, without replacing or eliminating health-care workers, to free up medical staff so they can spend more time on direct care, as well as reduce risk of their exposure.”

Dr. Laurel Riek, a professor of computer science and engineering, and emergency medicine at UC San Diego, said in the report that “systems that enable clinicians to control mobile manipulators — such as mobile robots with the ability to grasp and manipulate objects — are getting closer to the point of becoming affordable.”

It’s just one of the myriad of ways that disruptive technology can help transform a healthcare industry that can be slow to move in some aspects, but if the benefits can be realized in addition to lowered costs, hopefully the sector can move quicker with the times.

“It’s possible well-designed robots could help reduce the risks to health-care workers, who are already at a high risk of workplace injury,” said Riek, who also serves as director of UC San Diego’s Healthcare Robotics Lab. Robots can be used to take vital signs, provide comfort care, perform minor procedures and perform some delivery and cleaning tasks.

Disruptive Strength via ETFs

For investors looking for a broad ETF play in disruptive technology, they can look at the ARK Innovation ETF (NYSEArca: ARKK). The actively-managed ETF seeks to provide investors with:

  • Exposure to Innovation: Aims for thematic multi-cap exposure to innovation across sectors. ARK believes the securities held in ARKK present the best risk-reward opportunities from ARK’s innovation-based themes.
  • Growth Potential: Aims to capture long-term alpha+ with low correlation of relative returns to traditional growth strategies and negative correlation to value strategies.
  • Diversification: Offers a tool for diversification due to little overlap with traditional indices. It can be a complement to traditional value/growth strategies.
  • Research: Combines top-down and bottom-up research in its portfolio management to identify innovative companies and convergence across markets.
  • Cost Effectiveness: Provides a lower cost alternative to mutual funds with true active management in an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) that invests in rapidly moving themes.

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