Three days ago, on Tuesday 22/5, I attended Hanife Rexhepi’s thesis defense in Skövde. We are both researchers within the DOME consortium and we currently collaborate in several large follow-up studies on patient accessible electronic health records in Sweden. I arrived in Skövde a few hours before the defense and left the following day, after a very nice informal dinner.
Hanife’s thesis, which you can find here, builds a lot on the shared decision making process and the practice of evidence based medicine, and focuses on how information systems can be redesigned to facilitate communication between healthcare professionals and patients as well as access to knowledge for both patients and healthcare professionals (prerequisites for shared decision making and the practice of evidence based medicine) during the patient process. The work builds, primarily, on three case studies that include observations and interviews with healthcare professionals and patients. Through her work Hanife has been able to pinpoint several challenges, related to lack of information access (especially related to tacit knowledge) and support for shared decision making, for both healthcare professionals and patients. The work has led to, among other things, several guidelines for how to facilitate the shared decision making process as well as the practice of evidence based medicine, through supporting information systems, in an integrated manner throughout the care process. This is my short summary, but you can also hear Hanife’s own summary in the short interview (in Swedish) presented here.
Hanife did an excellent job during all parts of the defense! Before the defense, she was given the choice to either present the thesis herself or let the opponent do it. Since she chose to do it herself, the first 45 minutes were devoted to Hanife’s very professional presentation of her thesis work. I really enjoyed listening to it – the presentation was clearly structured and she really managed to use the outcome of the many projects she has been involved in to draw attention to important problems. She showed great confidence and she wasn’t afraid to use humor, at appropriate occasions, to make her points.
After the presentation, Hanife discussed her thesis work with the opponent, professor Peter Bath. I must say the she did an exceptionally good job during this part of the defense process! I have been to numerous defenses during my years in research and I have never before seen a doctoral student handling this discussion with such confidence and calmness. The opponent’s questions were really well thought-out and Hanife always had good answers and really took her time explore the questions in-depth. Sometimes she even drove the discussion. It was really a pleasure to listen to the discussion part of this defense!
After a little more than an hour’s discussion, the grading committee asked a few questions and Hanife also handled this part with ease. The same goes for the questions from the audience.
During my time at KTH (more than a decade) I was responsible for courses in communication and research rhetorics, so I know what I’m talking about when I say that it is very unusual to come across someone with such a good set of communication skills (including both written and verbal communication). I’m really happy that I was able to come to Skövde and experience this in real life!