We may think of a Patient Portal as a window for exposing health record content to patients... as this is the most prevalent application to date.
Connect Care seeks much more from the patient-facing information services. We want the clinical information system (CIS) to be used by patients as much as by their providers. Communication, way-finding, symptom surveillance, education, decision-support, e-visits and scheduling are just some salves for the information fragmentation that so frustrates our clients' experience of health care. Indeed, we may want to talk less of "portals" and more of "bridges"; connoting connection, bi-directional interaction, and gap-mitigation.
Many patients first experience informational fragmentation at the beginning of their health encounters, especially when "on-boarding". Effective information bridges could optimally pre-shape a wide range of patient-provider-team interactions. A number of organizations have been innovating with inclusive information services that use communication to break through traditional portal constraints.
Microsoft spotlights case-studies of promising health information innovations. A recent example cites the experience of Nicklaus Children's Health System with digital communication networks for patients and families. Obviously not peer-reviewed evidence, but interesting read nonetheless: