Curtin University Master of Dietetics student Belinda Neo is part of the first group of Digital Health CRC-supported summer interns working to solve real-world problems in telehealth, in collaboration with Digital Health CRC industry partners, supported by digital health experts.

Belinda is working on a telehealth project with the Consumer’s Health Forum of Australia which investigates why health consumers prefer either telephone or video when they have a telehealth consultation.

She’s one of up to ten honours, Masters and PhD students from universities around Australia taking part in the Digital Health CRC’s 2021 internship program.

“I worked as a Public Health Nutritionist for two years in Singapore after graduating from my undergraduate degree in BSc (Hons) Food and Human Nutrition from Newcastle University in the UK,” says Belinda.

She sees digital health as an indispensable tool in the healthcare landscape, and was excited by this opportunity to boost her skills.

“During my inter-professional clinical placement last year, I realised the importance of telehealth for health professionals to provide timely health information to patients living in rural and remote areas in Western Australia,” she says.

Belinda says she noticed that while some health consumers preferred to use telehealth over face-to-face consultations, even when WA experienced low COVID-19 case numbers toward the latter part of 2020, the method that consumers used to access telehealth seemed to vary for each person.

“I was curious to research patients’ preferences between the two modalities of videoconferencing and telephone,” she explained.

Belinda says that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the viability of digital health as an option for medical care and information, providing a range of communication platforms for health consumers from mobile applications, videoconferencing, and websites to access their health information.

She hopes to apply the knowledge she gains through her studies and through the internship, to her future career as a dietitian.

The first three DHCRC 2021 summer internship projects underway are:

    • Phone or Video?
      In collaboration with the Consumer Health Forum in Canberra, this project will explore which mode of telehealth delivery is preferred by consumers (i.e. video, phone) and the reasons behind their choice. Research will consider consumer’s age and access to technology, the perceived and actual costs and the time and type of their medical consultation.


    • Health in a virtual environment
      Perth’s East Metropolitan Health Service established a virtual environment for staff, labelled HIVE (‘Health in a virtual environment’). This project evaluates HIVE’s cost efficiency and its data analytics capacity. It also looks at the impact of HIVE’s work design on staff and the effect it has had on quality of patient care, staff engagement, community learning, and decision-making and communication.


  • Tele-psychiatry
    This collaboration with the WA Country Health Service (WACHS) examines videoconferencing-based approaches to deliver mental health-care, particularly for children and adolescents in rural and remote areas who may not have good internet access. The project looks at data on the effectiveness and limitations of tele-psychiatry.


Read more about the summer intern projects HERE