Knowledge tests and observational assessments

Covidien delivers product knowledge tests and observational assessments on the Apple iPad


Covidien currently offers clinically proven solutions for the prevention and treatment of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), chronic venous insufficiency, dialysis access, peripheral vascular disease, and neurovascular disease.

Covidien develops new technologies, products and programs focused on improved patient outcomes and safer, more efficient healthcare practices throughout the continuum of care, across the globe.

The company has been developing technologies for the endovascular treatment of peripheral vascular and neurovascular diseases and offers treatment options including primary interventional technologies such as plaque excision systems, peripheral angioplasty balloons, stents and many other devices. Neurovascular and Peripheral Vascular were franchises in ev3 Inc., which Covidien acquired in July 2010.

The members of the Neurovascular and Peripheral Vascular sales force in the United States need to understand the purposes, features and benefits of all the company’s products.

Since they often work directly with medical staff during procedures, sales reps must demonstrate their ability to use the company’s devices correctly.

To comply with FDA and other requirements, the company must certify employees by administering observational assessments.


The company uses Questionmark OnDemand hosting services for product knowledge tests as well as observational tests that are used in the certification process.

By delegating the hosting of tests to Questionmark, the team can focus on test content instead of dealing with hardware, software, system maintenance and IT support.

Assessments are delivered via a state-of-the-art, SOC II audited data center, which ensures a fully secure, reliable, effective operating environment for conducting high-availability IT and Internet operations. The arrangement gives training staff a lot of flexibility, according to Barry Jass, Peripheral Vascular manager of e-learning and instructional design.

‘I can schedule and administer assessments from my computer at work or on my iPad or on my computer at home,’ Jass says. ‘Wherever I am, whatever device I have, I can get access to the information that I need, and I can set up administrative rights for field trainers and regional managers when they need to run certifications.

Product knowledge tests on the Apple iPad

The company provides each sales rep with an Apple iPad, which doubles as a sales and learning tool. Salespeople access 10 to 30-minute e-learning modules about new and updated medical devices.

Each module concludes with a Questionmark test consisting of either pre-established questions or questions drawn randomly from an item bank. Jass makes extensive use of Questionmark’s range of item types, from multiple choice to essay. ‘I’ve used at least 19 different question types. The variety allows me to tailor the type of question in order to achieve the desired outcome.’

Sales people, who can log in to the e-learning and tests from wherever and whenever it’s convenient, must achieve a score of 90% in order to pass each module. ‘In our industry, people have to be available to assist physicians on a moment’s notice,’ explains Jass. ‘They have busy lives, working in labs and operating rooms, and they’ll end up having short breaks between procedures. Being able to spend that free time learning makes a lot of sense. And for us, it’s important to be able to track what they’re doing and make sure we have an educated sales force that’s doing its best. This is our way of making sure people have watched the learning materials but that they’re also learning the information we’re giving them.’

Centralized reporting

Centralized reporting allows us to see how everyone did on a particular assessment. We can give regional managers a quick snapshot of how their teams are doing by emailing them these results.

We send Coaching Reports to regional managers and field trainers to give them a more detailed look at how individuals are performing.’

Before switching to the iPad and Questionmark, the company used various means to deliver assessments, including the company’s LMS. Now, no matter the means of delivery, the assessment process can be linked to Questionmark to provide centralized, coordinated monitoring of all types of assessments.

Observational assessments for certifications

After providing in-service training on a particular device, a field trainer – also using an iPad — watches a candidate demonstrate its use and rates his or her performance on a 3-point survey scale ranging from ‘Performed without Prompting’ to ‘Performed with Prompting’ to ‘Unable to Perform.’

‘In the past, we used paper for the certifications,’ recalls Jass. ‘The field trainer had to fax the completed surveys to us, and then we had to scan them into people’s files to keep a record of them. Now, I can just assign administrative rights to a field trainer or a regional manager who wants to do a certification, and they can have immediate access to the test. When we run reports on certifications, we appreciate being able to read an observer’s comments as well as how they rated a participant on each item.’


Switching to e-learning and on-demand mobile assessments has helped the Neurovascular and Peripheral Vascular Divisions save the cost and complication of running paper-based assessments.

Salespeople are enthusiastic about the new way of doing things. ‘They love it,’ says Jass. ‘Once they take the Questionmark test, they’re done. They get their results immediately, and we benefit from being able to see what’s going on and can respond accordingly. We’ve only scratched the surface so far, but we can see a lot of future potential for testing in this way.’