A network for mediating the peer-to-peer transfer of digital patient medical data includes a plurality of distributed agents each associated with a health care provider and connected to a central system. Periodically the agents collect local information relating to patient medical files and/or data streams, for example diagnostic images and associated reports, and process that information into metadata files acting as pointers to the original files. The metadata files are transmitted to the central system where they are parsed and the attributes are stored on the central system in patient records with records from the same patient grouped together whenever possible. Registered users can search the central system, even in the absence of a unique identifier, to identify patient records pointing to the remote patient medical files. Upon finding a patient medical file, the invention provides a streamlined process for communicating access authorization from the patient to the hospital or facility storing the medical files. Once patient authorization is received, secure processes are provided for transferring the data in its entirety to or for viewing by the user in a peer-to-peer fashion.