Imagine a virtual world where doctors peruse data from other doctors, communicate with staff nurses and share best practices. Such a platform is moving closer to reality, thanks to a San Francisco startup.

The idea, says technology consultant Camilo Barcenas, is to create a social media platform in which hospital employees can better collaborate and find ways to bolster quality. Part of the impetus behind the site is the payment penalties that the Affordable Care Act levies on hospitals that have high readmission rates. Also, he says sites that tabulate quality measures, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, are hard to navigate.

"If we're really going to improve these metrics, the only way we're going to do it in a sustainable manner, without running our hospitals bankrupt, is by creating a platform where people who know what they're doing can share with one another how they're doing it," he says.

Enter Dabo Health, which is akin to Facebook for health professionals. The site compiles public quality data in an easy-to-read format and enables hospital employees to start conversations and form groups around certain topics.

The company raised about $800,000 to get the effort off the ground and it rolled out an early version of the site in August. Barcenas hopes to have a full version ready in early 2013. A free version of Dabo will be available to all health professionals, while a paid version allows providers to incorporate fresher data and track progress closer to real time.

The Mayo Clinic in September announced that it's forming a partnership with Dabo to experiment with the website. Mayo will have a minority stake in the company and is assisting in development and is testing specific quality metrics, says Lee Aase, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.

Can Dabo avoid becoming another social media experiment that fizzles out? Yes, says Farris Timimi, M.D., cardiologist and medical director for the center. He believes the chance to improve quality and boost the bottom line will entice doctors.