NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The health care field continues to be the site of important technological innovations, as providers struggle to offer the best possible care while keeping costs manageable.
Here are three companies that are leading the way in health care technology; all are good investments at current prices:
This firm is the global leader in minimally invasive robotic surgery. The company's da Vinci surgical system allows surgeons to operate through a few small incisions or the belly button from a nearby ergonomic console.
The system has a magnified 3D-HD vision system and tiny instruments that bend and rotate much more dexterously than the human hand, allowing for greater precision and control during surgery.
Use of the system has been growing rapidly. Worldwide da Vinci procedures grew 14% during the second quarter of 2015, up 8% over the first quarter of 2015. Growth was particularly strong in Asia and other international markets.
As a result, earnings in the second quarter of 2015 came in at $173 million, or $4.57 per share, compared with $140 million, or $3.73 per share, for the second quarter of 2014.
The investment firm Canaccord Genuity just reiterated a buy rating on the stock, noting that "the ongoing shift within the physician community from open to minimally invasive surgery" favors Intuitive Surgical. The da Vinci system, which up until now has been used primarily in the prostate and gynecology markets, has the potential to break out into the general surgery sector, the analysts added.
While Intuitive is a proven company in the medical robotics industry, an emerging story in medical robotics is going nearly unnoticed. They're called "exoskeletons" and in this free presentation you'll see how they have major medical and defense implications. Better yet, there's a small group of companies that you can invest in now to get exposure to the trend.
This company provides doctors with medical practice management and electronic health record platforms. It uses a cloud-based subscription model that's very scalable and tends to work best with small physicians groups.
There is a big market opportunity for companies that can help small medical practices navigate through the increasingly complicated world of medical record-keeping and billing. Athenahealth's software reduces staffing needs by improving the functionality and productivity of the office. Instead of maintaining a few full-time billing specialists on payroll, a doctor's office only needs a medical biller for a few hours each day.
When doctors' offices send claims to insurers, more than half get sent back because the forms weren't filled out correctly. Athenahealth has also connected its electronic health record platform to its practice management solution, so claims are prescreened by the system and then sent directly to insurers.
The net income growth for the company has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the health care technology industry. Total revenue for the three months ended June 30, 2015, was $224.7 million, compared to $185.9 million in the same period last year, an increase of 21%.
Henry Schein is the country's biggest supplier of dental equipment and products. With the aging of the baby boomers, Schein seems assured of a large market for its products for many years to come.
The company has made a 60% equity investment in BioHorizons, a manufacturer of advanced dental implant technology and tissue regeneration products sold globally.
Together with the company's investment in CAMLOG Biotechnologies AG, a leading manufacturer of dental implants in Europe, Henry Schein now has important positions in the U.S. and German implant markets, as well as a growing presence in the rest of the world.
Excluding restructuring costs, Schein's net income for the second quarter of 2015 was $123.2 million or $1.46 per share, an increase of 6% and 8.1%, respectively, compared with the second quarter of 2014.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.