"The lack of software developers is not just in health IT. It hurts the global economy," said Mary Cleary, deputy CEO of the Irish Computer Society, at the EU-U.S. ehealth Marketplace and Conference in Boston.
Technology can help health care, but there's a worldwide shortage of developers who can create the necessary applications, said Colin Reid, CEO of TotalMobile, a Belfast company that develops mobile software. The U.K. National Health Service uses TotalMobile's software and the company counts health care as one its largest markets.
"This is too important to be left to HR. It's really a business issue," said Reid, who added that the technology industry lacks female employees and could improve its efforts to reach underprivileged youth who may be interested in a software development career.
To increase people's interest in programming careers, TotalMobile sponsors the Belfast chapter of Women Who Code, a global nonprofit that is trying to increase the number of women in IT, and CoderDojo, which runs coding clubs for children and teenagers, as well as holding hackathons.
Getting children engaged with programming is especially important and the government can play a role in developing this interest, panelists said.