Intuitive Surgical

Intuitive Surgical Uses Qstream to Help Clinical Reps Retain Important Product Knowledge


“With Qstream, we had the answer to how people were performing, and the data to back it up.”

Clinical sales reps at Intuitive Surgical attend national sales meetings several times a year at significant cost to the organization. Yet as time goes by until product features are released, knowledge retention can drop off substantially. Executives faced the classic conundrum: How can we ensure that our investments in sales training will pay off – and how do we know that important new product information will be retained over time?

By using a mobile knowledge reinforcement solution from Qstream that engages reps for just 3 minutes a day with challenges delivered to their smartphone, tablet or laptop, Intuitive Surgical achieved better post-training retention – at levels equal to reps who received personal coaching from a subject matter expert.

“Qstream showed the same results in a delayed post-test as 1:1 mentoring for less time, resources and money, ” said John Kettles, Instructional Design Manager at Intuitive Surgical.

The Challenge

Intuitive Surgical is the global technology leader in robotic-assisted, minimally invasive surgery, and maker of the daVinci® surgical platform used in thousands of medical centers worldwide. Company sales reps must thoroughly and accurately sell daVinci’s myriad life- saving capabilities to surgeons. As a result, Intuitive’s management places a high priority on making sure their knowledge is kept up to date with changing regulations and market conditions.

Verifying a rep’s understanding of a complex product set however is difficult at best. Intuitive’s training teams tried emails, Webinars and re-training to help reps retain key product knowledge during the months between the initial training and when a product is launched. No matter the approach, rep’s knowledge upon retest would decline.

The Solution

Intuitive Surgical commissioned a program to benchmark three approaches to driving sales rep retention. They divided participants into three groups post-training:

  1. “Light-touch” participants received traditional follow-on support to the training
  2. The “Uber-touch” participants received follow-up support from a subject matter expert directly, such as the product manager.
  3. The final third used Qstream to respond to 3x weekly “challenge” questions delivered to their mobile device or laptop.

Developed at Harvard, Qstream helps leaders in dynamic market environments keep their teams aligned on vital information and on-the-job practices. By combining game mechanics such as leaderboards and social engagement with an adaptive “spaced delivery” approach, Qstream is easy to use and clinically proven to increase knowledge retention. In addition, real-time data lets managers proactively measure and manage team capabilities.

The Results

The largely Type A sales rep population took to the Qstream solution with vigor, inspiring competition between themselves to top the leaderboard. Qstream participants spent an average of 3 minutes and 30 seconds a day answering questions.

  • The light-touch group scored an average of 76% on a re- test
  • The Qstream and the Uber-touch groups scored virtually identically – 83% for Qstream users, compared to 84% for Uber-touch group.
“Qstream kept pace over time with folks working directly with our subject matter experts. We got the same results without having to dedicate as much time, energy, resources and money, ” Kettles said.
“We reached reps who we didn’t reach before with this program, ” said Kettles. “And now, we have access to the data itself, ” he continued.

This data includes:

  • the percentage of times individuals got an answer correct
  • the amount of time spent on questions; and,
  • the number of times the question took to master

Reps had access to their own Qstream dashboard on-line, making them self-sufficient in their own knowledge retention and creating more motivation – with details on how they were progressing through the program and how their performance ranked against their peers.

“With Qstream, we had the answer to how people were performing, and the data to back it up.”

About Intuitive Surgical

Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ: ISRG) is the global technology leader in minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery. The Company’s daVinci® Surgical System offers surgeons superior 3D HD visualization, enhanced dexterity, greater precision and control, as well as ergonomic comfort for the optimal performance of minimally invasive surgery (MIS). Headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA, Intuitive Surgical has more than 2, 360 employees worldwide.