This Electronic Data Methods (EDM) Forum brief examines the rationale for engaging patients and consumers in health care research, and discusses several opportunities and challenges based on the experiences of several efforts to leverage electronic clinical data (ECD) for comparative effectiveness research (CER), patient centered outcomes research (PCOR), and quality improvement (QI). It also identifies a number of challenges to meaningful engagement of patients and consumers in the research process. Finally, this brief raises new possibilities for thinking more holistically about ways to engage communities in evidence generation—expanding the continuum of activities potentially benefiting from patient and consumer involvement—so that technology and infrastructure development are included.