The Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grant Program (SHIP) provides funds to more than 1,600 participating hospitals in 47 participating State Offices of Rural Health (SORH). SHIP is authorized by Section 1820(g)(3) of the Social Security Act to assist small rural hospitals in meeting the costs of implementing data systems to meet requirements established under the Medicare program pursuant to amendments made by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.

The purpose of the SHIP is to help small rural hospitals of 49 beds or less, do any or all of the following: 1) enable the purchase of equipment and/or training to help hospitals attain the value-based purchasing provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA); 2) aid small rural hospitals in joining or becoming accountable care organizations, or creating shared savings programs per the ACA; 3) enable small rural hospitals to purchase health information technology, equipment, and/or training to comply with meaningful use, ICD-10 standards, and payment bundling; and 4) improve care transitions activities with the goal of reducing hospital readmissions.


SHIP Program Map

ship map



Montana has forty-eight (48) rural hospitals which meet the requirements for participation in the SHIP grant program, forty-seven (47) of which are Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs). Typically, each hospital is funded at $9,000 per year per hospital. Montana is one of the largest state participants in the country, with annual funding of nearly $450,000.  The SHIP grant has helped Montana rural/frontier CAHs to purchase equipment; implement electronic health records; train staff on ICD-10 coding; participate in training for HCAHPS surveys; participate in efficiency training (Six Sigma or Lean); purchase hardware/software related to disease registries and reporting of MBQIP measures; and numerous other significant expenditures.