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AO Foundation

Reviving the World's Largest Surgery Reference Site



  • Health


  • Experience Elevation


  • Sitecore
  • Coveo
  • Microsoft

Get to Know AO Foundation

AO Foundation

The medical field is one that’s constantly changing. The way we understand the body and how to treat it changes as we gain new information and as people try new things. When new discoveries are made or new surgical techniques established, that information has to be stored somewhere and made accessible to doctors around the globe.

The AO began with a problem: How to improve patient outcomes in the treatment of trauma and musculoskeletal disorders. Today, this remains the priority for everyone at and involved with the AO.

Short for Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen, the AO is a dedicated resource and repository of information. It is the premier innovator in the surgical treatment of bone fractures and disorders. While leading in the innovation of these treatments and techniques, the AO also keeps track of all of their advancements on one site. And when that site needed an update, they turned to Valtech.

Resuscitating a Website

AO Foundation

AO Surgery Reference is the largest site that AO operates. It’s a vast repository of information and a resource for the management of fractures, based on current clinical principles, practices and available evidence. And it’s not just for reference to human surgeries either; veterinary practices are also included in the site.

AO Foundation needed their Surgery Reference site updated to fit in more with the 21st Century digital landscape. The site was full of accurate information, but the graphics and user interface were outdated. Also, a lot of the AO Foundation websites had already been migrated over to Sitecore CMS, but the Surgery Reference, their biggest site in terms of information and traffic, still hadn’t been migrated yet. So, they needed a migration to Sitecore and a digital/graphics upgrade and decided to accomplish both tasks at the same time.

We put together a multidisciplinary team from all over to tackle AO Foundation’s needs. Members from Valtech offices in Switzerland, Ukraine, Denmark, France and the Netherlands all came together to complete this project. And did such a good job that the team created to tackle this project has been kept together to work on multiple other projects as well.

A Unique Sticking Point

Each project brings its own unique obstacle to overcome and problem to solve. With the AO Surgery Reference, their old CMS made use of Word Documents for importing content. Because the content on the Surgery Reference is created by doctors and surgeons around the world, it’s easier for them to create their content in a familiar space like Microsoft Word and then have that content imported directly from the Word file into their CMS. However, Sitecore doesn’t offer this kind of functionality.

A Singular Solution

As a Sitecore partner, our dev team understands the CMS inside and out. Because of this, we were able to create a special tool exclusively for the Surgery Reference website that would allow content to be created in Word documents and then imported directly into Sitecore.

A Marketing Roadmap Beyond One Project

AO Foundation

With such drastic changes made to the AO site, it was always going to be important to get the word out about the work that was done. However, it was important to us to provide marketing services that went well beyond simply announcing our own work.

Valtech oversaw the creation of an entire marketing plan along with AO. We reviewed AO’s social ecosystem to better define which social channels they should be present on and how to get the best out of those channels. We defined their content pillars, created their social media calendar for the year, and broke it into a monthly cadence to help ensure the content produced was consistently branded and easily replicable. We also redid all social media templates and email marketing strategy.

We helped to shift AO’s focus towards attracting new members through a fundamental understanding that traffic won’t come to a site, even to a flashy new site, without the company driving traffic there. Just publishing content isn’t enough, that content also must be relevant to the audience and delivered to them where they live. Along those lines, we also helped AO to address specific topics by where their users (surgeons) were at specific points in their residency, helping the people they most needed using their site to find the information that was most relevant to them and presented in a manner that matched where they were in their careers at the time.

The Results

AO Foundation

The AO Foundation Surgery Reference website now includes functionalities it didn’t have before as well as a new and updated look. The surgeons who add content to the site have the ability to continue doing so in the straightforward, user-friendly manner that they’re used to. And visitors to the site have access to all of the important information the site offers as well as AI powered search suggestions.

By reworking AO’s marketing infrastructure, we gave them the tools to best meet the current world of digital-first, while also allowing them to better activate HCPs digitally for offline events. By helping to create new templates and a new easily replicable way of working, we’ve given AO the tools to create such events, market them and see success through their efforts that may be more difficult to see if your marketing and communication strategies aren’t as fully automated and integrated as possible.

The Surgery Reference site continues to be AO Foundation’s biggest, both in terms of the amount of information that’s sored on it and in terms of traffic. And the changes that have come to the site through our work are just the tip of the iceberg. If you think your project has elements included that are impossible to reach, tell us about them and let our teams find solutions that otherwise didn’t exist before.

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