AO Annual Report 2020: AO Spine year in review


17 June 2021

Annual Report

The AO Annual Report 2020, now available online, looks at the challenges and achievements of a year out of the ordinary across five separate chapters—education, innovation, research, finance and governance, and corporate social responsibility (CSR)—and AO Spine’s milestones played an important role.

AO Spine education

Like all of the AO’s clinical divisions and its clinical unit, AO Spine made an agile turn to online education in 2020. The premier knowledge provider in spine surgery and at the forefront of education and research, AO Spine last year underlined its leadership by introducing innovative formats in education, a formal assessment of competencies required to manage patients with spinal disorders, and Clinical Expert Advice Forums offering documented expert opinion where it matters.

Among AO Spine’s key 2020 achievements were its leadership in the arena of cutting-edge online events, such as the AO Spine Asia Pacific First Virtual Conference, a very successful two-day event comprised six 90-minute subspecialty sessions focusing on a range of highly relevant topics. The year 2020 also marked the launch of the AO Spine Global Diploma Exam, designed for experienced spine surgeons who want to certify their knowledge. The exam enables candidates to demonstrate that they have attained the level of knowledge expected of a specialist spine surgeon after five years of practical experience.

Additionally, against the backdrop of COVID-19, the AO Spine Clinical Expert Advice Forums in 2020 filled a knowledge gap for thousands of surgeons through six dedicated webinars presenting experts’ advice on various everyday clinical scenarios. Furthermore, AO Spine leadership’s foresight and vision were reaffirmed in 2020 when its Global Spine Journal became the first and only truly open access journal in spine surgery to receive an impact factor.


The AO Annual Report 2020 also details AO Spine’s 2020 research efforts, characterized by a comprehensive approach involving surgeons, health care professionals, and patients. For example, AO Spine assessed COVID-19’s impact on health care professionals through a survey of over 900 spine surgeons worldwide--and the World Health Organization has requested outcomes of the study for future planning.

Furthermore, with telemedicine adoption accelerating worldwide in 2020, AO Spine’s global online survey of nearly 500 spine surgeons spotlighted the value of an international spine organization in describing and responding to changes in practice patterns and how “best practices” might be established as a field moving forward. Also in 2020, spine surgeons and researchers took part in the first-ever AO Spine event focusing exclusively on spine applications for artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Also, in 2020, the AO Spine Knowledge Forum Trauma published the first universal outcome instrument specifically for spinal trauma patients. The AO Spine patient-reported spine trauma outcome measure allows for measuring and comparing of different treatment options and is available in eight languages.


Alongside AO Spine’s 2020 achievements, the AO Annual Report 2020 details AO Trauma, AO CMF, AO VET, and AO Recon milestones, as well as key AO accomplishments, such as mobilization to leverage technology to facilitate online education and expand its reach, as illustrated by the overwhelmingly successful, first-ever fully online AO Davos Courses. Moreover, the AO Innovation Translation Center was launched, and the AO Research Institute Davos underscored its innovation legacy with the launch of OSapp and recorded a new record high number of publications. Additionally, the AO renewed its cooperation with DePuy Synthes; underscored its commitment to opportunity, diversity, and inclusion with the launch of AO Access; launched the AO Sports initiative; and, in response to the global crisis, continued its local and global CSR activities to positively impact patients, the health sector, and communities.

Read the AO Annual Report 2020—enriched with compelling infographics, images, and videos—today.

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