Annual Report 2020

The AO is a medically-guided, not-for-profit organization, a global network of surgeons, and the world's premier education, innovation, and research organization for the surgical treatment of trauma and musculoskeletal disorders.

From the President and the CEO:
a year out of the ordinary

In 2020, the world faced unprecedented challenges due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted our lives and ways of working. Throughout the crisis, the AO has demonstrated, above all, its commitment to the health, safety, and well-being of our officers, faculty, course participants, and staff across the globe. The pandemic mobilized our organization into innovatively leveraging technology to facilitate online education and knowledge exchange, advancing our educational offerings, and expanding our reach to new audiences. It has also been a period of success in new and renewed partnerships, key innovations that improve patient care, and progress in diversity and inclusion.

In April we responded to the new reality of pandemic restrictions with the From the Frontline webinar series, focusing on topics related to COVID-19 for our surgeons. While our flagship, globally renowned event, the AO Davos Courses, which for 60 years has been held face-to-face, on-site, successfully migrated to a fully digital event, providing a great example of our organization’s resilience in the face of challenges provided by COVID-19.

Key achievements in 2020 that moved the needle for the AO included AO Recon’s contribution to the AO Davos Courses, covering new ground in the fields of total hip and knee arthroplasty, shoulder revision arthroplasty, and periprosthetic fracture management. AO CMF also expanded its digital offering with the Online Campus reaching as many as 30,000 participants during the year.

To meet the significant global need for comprehensive, outcome-based education in surgical treatment of sports injuries and other soft-tissue conditions around the joints, the AO Education Institute under the direction of the AO Sports Steering board, in its first year as a new initiative, began developing three distinct curricula, in collaboration with renowned experts from China, Germany and the United States. Under the umbrella of AO Sports, these three initial webinars, which focused on specific topics around the shoulder joint, were met with interest by orthopedic surgeons around the world. To continue to help surgeons achieve excellence in patient care in this growing field, the AO is planning new educational offerings for AO Sports in 2021.

In keeping with our mission to advance patient care, we launched the AO Innovation Translation Center powerhouse to realize innovative solutions for surgeons worldwide. And the AO Research Institute Davos (ARI) underscored its innovation legacy with the launch of OSapp, an interactive, virtual osteosynthesis software tool and learning platform.

In 2020, we renewed our cooperation agreement with DePuy Synthes, allowing both independent organizations to work collaboratively, based on mutual respect and a shared mission to improve patient care and outcomes. We also strengthened our organization through partnering with OBERD to launch the world's largest orthopedic outcomes database, AO Global Data. Moreover, we partnered with icotec to leverage its game-changing technology platform based on its unique nonmetallic material that provides unmatched strength and endurance for the joint development of a new spinal stabilization system.

We strongly believe in building a truly inclusive and supportive working environment which, in the end, will improve the care we provide for our patients. In June of last year, the AO Foundation Board approved the visionary project AO Access, that seeks to address existing inequalities to entry and advancement for surgeons within the AO network, to identify and overcome these barriers, and provide mentorship opportunities for future leaders in our organization. We are pleased with the early success of the program which has been embraced by our membership.

We are truly grateful to all who work with and for the AO for the impressive achievements we have seen in 2020. We take pride in our strong support for our community of health care practitioners, and we look forward to a future where we return to our face-to-face, on-site education as soon as it is safe to do so while continuing to add value in the virtual space.


Enhancing skills and knowledge in key areas to improve patient outcomes.


Delivering tangible improvements for clinicians, improving the patient journey.


Advances in preclinical and clinical research underpin our work to further our mission.

Finance and Governance

Review the data on our performance in 2020.


Locally and globally, we are good citizens wherever we have a presence.

Download the AO Annual Report 2020 as a PDF