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Digitising Dietetics Care – The Way Forward

10 Sep 2021

Advancements in technology have gradually transformed the way in which people approach health. From modalities such as mobile apps to integrated personal records, clients have begun to expect receiving seamless, responsive, and high quality, personalised care. Certainly, the recent pandemic has catalysed this transformation further, even for dietetics services. Clients now no longer need to wait months for an appointment, travel distances to see one or even take a time off amidst their busy schedules to see a dietitian for their nutrition needs. With this appeal and the fact that online consultations are here to stay even after the pandemic, dietitians who are adept at the digital platform are increasing in demand. In line with this, IMU Dietetics with Nutrition endeavours to fill this niche by producing quality graduates who are able to provide digital dietetics consultations right after graduation. This is enabled by a collaboration with two distinguished industrial partners- Naluri and LiveSmart Malaysia- who offers internship opportunities to final year dietetics students. Through the incorporation of digital dietetics as a distinct module, students can now learn the skill sets required for virtual consultations, from assessing their clients’ nutritional status, to monitoring the clients’ behaviour change, all whilst still providing personalised care.

Additionally, the students’ learning experience will be enriched through their contribution towards the development of online nutrition modules to support clients’ behavioural change. This is an exciting opportunity for students who are inclined towards nutrition, health and technology.

LiveSmart provides a digital-first, doctor and dietitian-led health assessment reports and one-to-one bespoke health coaching to help people make lasting improvements to their health – anytime, anywhere. In Malaysia, in collaboration with Asia Assistance Network (M) Sdn Bhd, their corporate HR health & safety online platform, Awaken, is developed for businesses and their employees in implementing a positive and sustainable change of behaviour for significant long-term impacts. Covering all facets of health, including mental health and conventional lab tests, Awaken provides an all-in-1, screening, identification & intervention solution, that helps detect health problems before it’s too late, and provide the necessary personalised care required to help each employee and their company reach their fullest potential. “Naluri offers a human-driven and AI-augmented digital health coaching programme that delivers quantifiable, clinically significant health outcomes to support people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, renal disease, cancer, hypertension, and heart disease, as well as mental health risks like anxiety and depression. Naluri helps healthcare payors save on avoidable healthcare costs by delivering structured, multidisciplinary, behavioural, and psychological coaching led by a team of qualified clinicians including psychologists, dietitians, medical doctors, pharmacists and physiotherapists. This is in addition to state-of-art proprietary app-based learning and health monitoring tools to help clients cope with chronic physical and mental health risks. Students who undergo internships with us will have the chance to be exposed to Naluri’s multidisciplinary collaboration in nutrition care management,” said the Head Dietitian, Eng Seow Wei.

Chua Li Xin, one of IMU’s final year Dietetics students who recently completed her internship with Livesmart recounted:
“I was able to experience the whole process on how digital dietetics can play a part in improving one’s diet, physical and mental health. It is not just about helping one lose weight. Digital dietetics is also about helping clients take ownership of their overall well-being. We often hear how online nutrition counselling is not as effective as its face-to-face counterpart due to the lack of human touch. However, when done right, nutrition counselling can still impart empathy and respect. As someone with a particular interest in the digital health field, I am very excited to see what else is in store for digital dietetics and how it can gain more recognition in Malaysia.”

IMU offers the BSc (Hons) Dietetics with Nutrition degree, a four-year programme integrated with dietetics practicums in the area of food service management, community and clinical dietetics, as well as the opportunity to embark upon a mobility experience aboard or locally.

The programme also offers credit transfer options to a bachelor’s degree in two Australian universities; University of Newcastle and Griffith University. Through such rich experiences, graduates from the IMU programme can surely begin their career as dietitians across a variety of settings, from the physical to the digital platforms.

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