A Vermont accountable care organization is trying out a new approach to better coordinating care between hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.

OneCare Vermont — a statewide ACO coordinating care for more than 112,000 beneficiaries — just launched a new pilot program with three local skilled nursing facilities. The three SNFs will now be able to accept Vermont Medicare patients after just one day in the hospital, according to the Sentinel.

Typically, under Medicare rules, patients need to be at a hospital for at least three consecutive days before Medicare covers their treatment at a SNF. The OneCare Vermont ACO is granting two local hospitals and its SNF partners a waiver to drop the requirement to one day under a new pilot program. The change will affect some 5,000 patients.

The ACO first started operating in January, with the aim of lowering healthcare costs and keeping patients healthy and out of the hospital. With the waiver change, officials hope to decrease the number of unnecessary hospital stays and emergency department visits while trimming costs and dropping healthcare-association infections.

SNFs taking part in the pilot include Pine Heights Nursing and Rehabilitation, and Thompson House, both in Brattleboro, along with Vernon Green, in Vernon, VT. Skilled care providers taking part must have a minimum 3-star rating to participate.

“Under the waiver program, patients can access skilled care without making the difficult decision to pay a high out-of-pocket fee or be discharged home without the needed support to effectively and efficiently rehabilitate,” Norman Ward, M.D., chief medical officer of OneCare Vermont, said in the release.