Patient-oriented research (POR) aims to increase patient engagement in health research to improve health research and health services. In Canada, the Strategies for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) framework provides guidance for conducting POR. We critically review the SPOR framework through the lens of public health systems and services research. The SPOR framework is primarily focused on engaging individual patients in health research without attention to broader structural forces that shape health and participation in healthcare systems. Shifting from patient to public involvement and from patient to community engagement and being explicit about the range of health research that SPOR encompasses would enhance the framework and strengthen the potential of SPOR to improve health systems through health protection, promotion and prevention of disease and injury.