Technology can fill a “large part” of the £30 billion funding gap facing the health service, NHS England’s director of patients and information has claimed.

Tim Kelsey told a group of health IT business people at an NHS England entrepreneurs day last Friday that they must get involved in the government’s “call to action” on the future of the NHS, and push for more investment in technology.

He said NHS England projects a £30 billion funding gap by 2020 as NHS funding remains flat, but the health service faces rising demand and costs.

The commissioning board has today announced a public debate about the future of the health service. It hopes that by laying out the financial position, it can secure support for radical changes to avoid the gap, while meeting public expectations.

Kelsey encouraged SMEs and innovators to respond. “The argument we all have to make is that data and technology can fill a large part of that gap,” he told attendees.

He argued that investment in technology can make the health system sustainable by enabling patients to do “lots more work for the NHS"; pointing out that other industries have responded to similar pressures by shifting routine operations from staff to users.

Unlocking intelligence held in health IT systems will also “unleash the power of people," he added, describing this as the “most important asset the NHS has in its armoury."

The new publication, ‘The NHS belongs to the people: a call to action’ sets out the challenges facing the NHS, including more people living longer with more complex conditions, increasing costs while funding remains flat, and rising expectations of the quality of care.

The document says that the NHS must change to meet these demands and make the most of new medicines and technology and that it will not contemplate reducing or charging for core services.

Read more about the event and what NHS England says it is doing to support entrepreneurs in Insight.