The potential of patient portals to improve patient engagement and health outcomes has been discussed for more than a decade. The slow growth in patient portal adoption rates among patients and providers in the United States, despite external incentives, indicates that this is a complex issue. We examined evidence of patient portal use and effects with a focus on the pulmonary domain. We found a paucity of studies of patient portal use in pulmonary practice, and highlight gaps for future research. We also report on the experience of a pulmonary department using a patient portal to highlight the potential of these systems.