Sarah Wright-Schreiberg was just 34 in September of 2011 when she was diagnosed with lymphoma.

Thrust into the world of doctors’ appointments and rounds of chemotherapy, Wright-Schreiberg took control of her treatment through personalized health records offered by her Kaiser Permanente health plan.

Sharing information

Personal health records, not to be confused with electronic health records, help people directly collect, track and share past and current health information. In addition to viewing medical history and lab test results, the websites allow users to refill prescriptions, email doctors and even schedule appointments.

“I felt I was actively participating in my treatment. My experience would have been very different if I couldn’t literally click and see my results.”

“It really saved me,” recalls the Oakland, Calif.-resident who relied on the platform to monitor her progression during treatment. “It was a sanity saver. I didn’t have to wait for a phone call. I wasn’t left twisting in the wind worrying what was going on. Was my white count high enough to go to a movie? Or did I need to hunker down?”

Convenience is key

As a complement to face-to-face appointments, the option to message doctors was more convenient and less invasive for when Wright-Schreiberg says she ”just didn’t have the desire to talk to another human.”

Having all her records accessible at her fingertips on kp.org encouraged her to learn as much as she could about what her tests and readings meant. “I felt I was actively participating in my treatment,” she says.

Now in remission and the mother of a one-year-old daughter Naomi, Wright-Schreiberg still checks online for routine test results.

Her advice: be your own best health advocate, schedule regular checkups and establish personal health records. “My experience would have been very different if I couldn’t literally click and see my results.”